New operation launched against Taliban extremists

Posted in NATO | 28-Jul-07 | Source: NATO

British soldiers watch as a Chinook helicopter lands in Lashkar Gah, capital of the southern province of Helmand.

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Force and ISAF troops have launched a further operation to drive Taliban extremists out of the Upper Gereshk Valley of Helmand province here.

The task force-level operation, codenamed “Chakush” or “Hammer,” began this morning in the area between Heyderabad and Mirmandab, northeast of Gereshk. The operation is continuing the momentum towards expelling Taliban extremist forces from areas of the Upper Gereshk Valley.

“This operation is another important step in continuing the progress we have made recently in providing the enduring security conditions required for the Afghan government to remove Taliban extremist influence from the communities in Sangin and the Upper Gereshk Valley,” said Lt. Col. Charlie Mayo, Task Force Helmand spokesman.

“It is vitally important to prevent Taliban extremists intimidating and terrorizing the local population so that they can go about their daily lives peacefully,” Mayo said. “The malignant presence of the Taliban subjects the people of Helmand to the threat of violence and hampers reconstruction and development projects that are so important to improving their quality of life.”

ISAF’s objective is to extend the influence and control of Afghanistan’s democratically elected government as well as enable reconstruction and development projects to take place, Mayo said. The creation of an enduring security presence in the Upper Gereshk Valley is an important step to achieving these objectives, he added.

At 5:30 a.m., ISAF and ANSF advanced to secure a strategic bridge across the Nahr-e-Seraj canal, clearing and searching compounds, before military engineers established a joint forward operating base in order to provide an enduring and reassuring security presence in the area.

A few thousand ANSF and ISAF personnel are taking part in this operation, which is the latest in a series of military actions in the province.