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Afghanistan: Major allied offensive planned on Musa Qala
Rediff News Bureau | December 06, 2007 12:23 IST
A major allied offensive is reportedly being planned on the Musa Qala area of Afghanistan, to counter the resurgent Taliban.
Reports across the British media speak of NATO aircraft dropping leaflets warning the locals of the imminent assault, and advising them to get out of the way.
Musa Qala, published reports say, holds enormous symbolic value for the Taliban -- it is, Tom Coghlan points out in The Independent, the only urban center in Taliban hands, and has remained under control of the rebel force for close to a year now.
Significantly, reports indicate that for the first time, the nascent Afghan national army will lead the assault, working in tandem with the British army.
The two forces have been pushing forward from its bases in Sangin, and are now reported to be two miles outside Musa Qala.
Taliban commanders told Coghlan over satellite telephone that their defensive preparations are in place; the approaches to the town are mined and anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery have been strategically positioned, they are reported to have said, and in an early skirmish, they claim to have captured and destroyed a British tank.
The commanders quoted, however, would not commit to whether the Taliban would make a fight for the town, or opt for strategic retreat into the surrounding mountains -- a preferred Taliban tactic, putting the onus of holding the town on the troops, while mounting guerilla attacks from their mountain hideouts.
The Taliban Web site has countered the leaflets and other allied propaganda with its own rejoinder. 'It is a known fact that wherever they have gone with all their power, their strength has melted, their equipment has been destroyed, their skulls have remained [on the battlefield], and they have left the battlefield defeated and broken,' the Web site is quoted as sayting.
Published reports meanwhile say the attack could take place sometime in the next 48 hours.