US Marines clearing out key Afghan insurgent centres | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, July 07, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, July 07, 2009

US Marines clearing out key Afghan insurgent centres

Nearly a week after launching one of the biggest operations in post-Taliban Afghanistan, about 4,000 US Marines are holding key insurgent centres and making it clear they intend to stay, the forces say.
The Marines, working with around 600 Afghan security forces, have pushed far down the Helmand River valley, setting up in the key towns of Nawa and Garmsir and wresting control of Khanishin in the far south towards Pakistan.
They were clearing out areas around these points and meeting locals to explain their purpose, officials said.
Nawa and Garmsir had previously had some government presence. But the arrival of around 500 Marines had helped police restore government control in Khanishin, a statement from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade said late Monday.
The extremist Taliban, which ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, had established a proxy administration in the area, an important stopping point in a route through the desert from the largely open border.
"This is the first time coalition forces have had a sustained presence so far south in the Helmand River valley," the statement said.
"Khanishin had been a Taliban stronghold for several years before Afghan and coalition forces arrived and began discussions with local leaders several days ago," it said.
Afghan officials reported earlier that the force had moved into the area easily on Thursday, hours after Operation Khanjar (dagger) was launched with relays of choppers dropping hundreds of troops into Taliban territory.

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