1,000 Marines join Afghan troops in offensive
KABUL (AP) – U.S. Marines and Afghan troops have killed at least seven Taliban fighters during the first U.S.-led offensive since President Barack Obama announced a new American war plan this week, Afghan officials said Saturday.
American and Afghan troops have met little resistance since Operation Cobra’s Anger was launched Friday to disrupt Taliban supply and communications lines in the strategic Now Zad Valley of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, Marine officials said.
About 1,000 Marines and 150 Afghan troops are taking part in the offensive, including hundreds of Marines dropped behind Taliban lines by helicopters and MV-22 Osprey aircraft. A second, larger Marine force pushed northward from the Marines’ main base.
“We’re not taking for granted the low level of contact,” Marine spokesman Maj. William Pelletier said Saturday. “Just because it’s quiet now doesn’t mean it will be in 24 hours. Part of the operation is to have a disruptive effect on the Taliban resupply activities. The Marines and Afghan forces are continuing the clearing operation, continuing to move through the valley.”
No coalition casualties have been reported. Daood Ahmadi, spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said 11 Taliban fighters have been killed and five captured. The Afghan Defense Ministry said seven militants were killed and two captured.