Wire: US Marines Launch Major Operation in Afghanistan
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that thousands of U.S. Marines along with Afghan security forces moved into the Helmand River valley Wednesday evening in one of the the first large-scale tests of the Obama administration's new Afghanistan strategy.
More than 4,0000 servicemembers from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and an estimated 650 Afghan soldiers and police launched Operation Khanjar, or "Strike of the Sword."
The military push was described by officials as the largest and fastest-moving of the war's newest phase. British forces last week led similar missions to fight and clear out insurgents in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
However, the push is not aimed at directly attacking the Taliban insurgency.
Once Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villages, they have been instructed to build and live in small outposts among the local population. The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban, and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents, according to a report by the Washington Post.
"Our focus is not the Taliban," Nicholson told his officers. "Our focus must be on getting this government back up on its feet."
This is a developing story with more to follow.
(Report from newswire sources.)
U.S. Marines Launch Major Operation in Afghanistan
Major military operation under way in Afghanistan
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