Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Operation Achilles Launched

NATO launched it's biggest Afghan offensive since 2001 on Tuesday, targetting the Taliban and drug lords as hundreds of people rallied in the east against U.S. soldiers killing civilians.

Operation Achilles, which will eventually involve 4,500 NATO soldiers and 1,000 Afghans, began about dawn in Helmand province -- the opium centre of the world's biggest producer, the head of the alliance's southern command Dutch Major-General Ton van Loon said in a statement.

The Taliban over-ran the key Helmand town of Musa Qala a month ago, ending a controversial truce, but a NATO spokeswoman said Achilles was not specifically aimed at regaining the town. "It signifies the beginning of a planned offensive to bring security to northern Helmand and set the conditions for meaningful development that will fundamentally improve the quality of life for Afghans in the area," van Loon said. NATO has about 33,000 troops in the country, including support personnel. The open-ended operation is aimed largely at allowing the repair and expansion of the province's Kajaki dam hydroelectric facility. More.

Photo: Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patrica's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group hike through the mountains east of Gardez at 3,000 metres above sea level, resting frequently to adjust to the oxygen-poor atmosphere. These troops were engaged in Operation Anaconda, the Canadian Army's first combat mission since the Korean War. The 3 PPCLI Battle Group is deployed in Afghanistan on Operation APOLLO, Canada's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism.

+ Canada takes No. 1 spot in global image poll
+ US Marine General James L. Jones: Military alone will not secure Afghanistan
+ U.S. army medic denies desertion in Iraq case
+ UN fears Afghanistan's opium farming on the rise
+ Taliban claims kidnapping of Briton, 2 Afghans in southern Afghanistan
+ Senate Committee Questions Taliban, al-Qaida Gains in Afghanistan
+ Pakistan arrest 5 suspects; "Taliban gloomy"
+ Singapore to join New Zealand in Afghanistan

A US CH-47 Chinook performs an Afghan rooftop pickup.

Army Pvt. 1st Class stands in the turret of his Humvee, flanked by his M240B machine gun and his laser rangefinder on a bluff deep within enemy territory in Afghanistan.

+ Mosul terrorists storm Iraq jail, free 140 prisoners: Dozens of gunmen stormed an Iraqi jail in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday and freed up to 140 prisoners in one of the biggest prison breaks since 2003...Saddam Hussein's nephew, Ayham Sabawi, escaped the same prison in December after he was accused of financing the Sunni insurgency against U.S. forces and the Shi'ite-led government.

+ US jury finds ex-Cheney aide guilty in CIA leak case

+ Attacks kill 112 Shi'ite pilgrims in Iraq: Insurgents killed 112 Shi'ite pilgrims streaming to the holy Iraqi city of Kerbala on Tuesday, including nearly 80 after two suicide bombers blew themselves up in one crowded street lined with tents...The attacks, just over a year since the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in the city of Samarra


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