NATO and Afghan government forces have forced Taliban troops out of a southern Afghan district after a two-week operation in which NATO said hundreds of militants were killed.And speaking too soon.
"This has been a significant success and clearly shows the capability that Afghan, NATO and coalition forces have when they operate together," the British commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Richards told a news conference on Sunday.
The offensive, codenamed Operation Medusa, was launched on September 2 to clear well dug-in Taliban forces from a farming district about 25 km (15 miles) west of the southern city of Kandahar.
Four Canadian soldiers were killed and several more were wounded in a suicide bombing which targeted troops in southern Afghanistan Monday, the head of NATO forces in the region confirmed.What has not been made clear is that Operation Medusa was mounted, not so much as an action to clear out Taliban forces from Panjwaii district, but to pre-empt an expected major attack on Kandahar.
"An individual on a bicycle detonated himself near the Canadian soldiers," Brig.-Gen. David Fraser told reporters.
While the military vows to continue on with the mission, the attack raises questions as to whether it's secure enough for residents to start returning home.
18 months ago US Major General Eric Olson stated, "The Taliban is a force in decline." From Declan Walsh:
Today, to many observers those words look foolish. While northern and western Afghanistan remain stable, President Hamid Karzai is isolated and unpopular. Comparisons of the southern war with Vietnam are no longer considered outlandish. And dismayed western diplomats - the architects of reconstruction - are watching their plans go up in smoke. "Nobody saw this coming. It's pretty dire," admitted one official in Kabul.Nobody saw this coming?! Who the hell is he trying to kid?
No single factor explains the slide. But some answers can be found in Ghazni, a central province considered secure until earlier this year. Now it is on the frontline of the Taliban advance, just a two-hour drive from Kabul.
Somebody isn't reading their intelligence reports.