OEF Update, Dec. 4, 2009: US Marines Start Operation in Helmand Province
Dispatches from the Front:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2009 -- More than 1,000 International Security Assistance Force troops are partnering with Afghan forces to begin a large-scale operation in northern Helmand province.
About 900 U.S. Marines and sailors and British forces began partnering today with 150 Afghan soldiers and police to start Operation Khareh Cobra, or Cobra's Anger, to clear insurgent forces in the Now Zad valley.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7 and 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion are partnered with Afghan army and police. The forces began helicopter and ground operations in the Now Zad valley early this morning.
Now Zad was once Helmand's second largest city, but is now empty due to years of fighting. Insurgents have heavily mined the area, and a key purpose of the operation is to provide enough security for the Afghan government and non-governmental organizations to begin clearing the mines and improvised explosive devices in order to enable the eventual repopulation of the city.
A company of Marines is stationed in Now Zad along with 150 Afghan soldiers and police.
(Compiled from a Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan news release.)