– NATO LAUNCHED “DRAGON STRIKE” OPERATION
Hundreds of Afghan police joined a key military offensive, on Monday 09/27/2010, against the Taliban in their heartland in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, officials said. NATO-ISAF forces are leading the long awaited push against insurgents in Kandahar city and surrounding areas, dubbed Operation Dragon Strike. Dragon Strike is the latest phase of Operation Hamkari, seen as a last-ditch effort to eliminate the Taliban from Kandahar and the surrounding areas of Zhari, Panjawyi and Arghandab, long regarded as Taliban hotbeds (see -Kandahar Struggle).
Kandahar deputy police Chief Fazil Ahmad Sherzad said that 900 police officers joined NATO and Afghan soldiers Monday. “The aim of this operation is to disrupt Taliban, clean the insurgents out of villages, and expand law and order. Reconstruction projects will follow,” he told AFP.
Afghan General Abdul Hamid said the operation could take more than two months to complete, and involved two battalions of Afghan soldiers (shich is more symbolic then effective).
NATO said Afghan soldiers outnumbered international forces in the military phase of the operation, which was launched in the early hours of Saturday 09/25/2010.
“We expect hard fighting,” said German Brigadier General Josef Blotz, spokesman for NATO-ISAF. “There have been a number of shaping operations to soften insurgent defenses in preparation for the harder fighting,” he said in a statement. “Afghan and coalition forces are destroying Taliban fighting positions so they will not have anywhere left to hide.”
Operation Hamkari, which means cooperation in Dari, was launched about five months ago as the USA deployed an extra 30,000 troops, mostly to Kandahar province, in preparation for the final push against the Taliban (see – Obama’s Surge). The Taliban movement was launched in Kandahar province and it has long considered the region as its central base.
Clearing Kandahar city and its outlying suburbs of insurgents is seen as key to the success of the war against the Taliban, now dragging towards its 10th year. The U.S. and NATO have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the insurgency, with deployments concentrated on the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.
The regions being targeted in Dragon Strike are said to be mined with improvised bombs, the Taliban’s weapon of choice, which cause the majority of NATO deaths and injuries.
Manville the fighting in Marjah, where the high profile Moshtarak-Operation was carried out in early 02/2010, is still fought on daily bases with sniper ambushes, improvised explosive devices (IED) and sudden guerilla attacks, despite reports of alleged success. NATO commanders were overly optimistic when they predicted quick success taking the key Taliban-held town of Marjah last winter, the outgoing deputy commander said on Saturday 09/04/2010. Eight month after the operation began there are still reports from Marjah such as “Regimental combat team 7 (Marines) commander see progress in Marjah”,on 09/08/2010.