Saturday, February 6, 2010

UK troops lead major NATO Afghan assault

Al Arabiya News Channel Camp Bastion, AFGHANISTAN (Reuters)

British troops have launched helicopter advances in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province to prepare the battlefield for a major NATO operation, the British military said on Friday.

The British operations are on the outskirts of Marjah, a warren of desert canals held by the Taliban, which U.S. Marines say they intend to seize soon in what will be one of the biggest assaults of the eight-year-old war.

British and Afghan troops were carrying out "shaping operations" in Helmand's Nad Ali district as part of an initial phase of Operation Moshtarak, or "together," a large assault which will seize the entire district, the British military said.

Nad Ali includes Marjah, which the U.S. Marines describe as the last major Taliban-held bastion in the south of the province, Afghanistan's most violent region, which produces most of the country's illegal opium crop that helps fund the insurgency.

The assault on Marjah itself will be the first operation to employ some of the 30,000 new reinforcements sent by U.S. President Barack Obama at the end of last year.

NATO commanders say they intend to turn the tide this year on an insurgency that has grown far stronger and more deadly in recent years. Obama has said he plans to begin drawing down forces in mid-2011.

British troops have been conducting shaping operations for a few weeks in the area, and launched fresh helicopter and ground advances in the past 36 hours, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield said in a statement.

"The operations which have been taking place in the British area of Nad Ali District over the last 36 hours have been part of that same series of 'shaping operations', all part of Op (operation) Moshtarak," he said.

"They have been commanded jointly by Afghan and British commanders and have involved insertions by helicopter and ground of Afghan and British troops to locations to the west of the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah," he said.


  1. Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

  2. Very best of luck, and best wishes for the Op, guys! Go get 'em!