Kandahar offensive set for June

March 31, 2010 at 12:31 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, March 31 (UPI) -- U.S. military officials in Afghanistan say the NATO-led offensive to drive out the Taliban from Kandahar city is planned for June.

The June date for the Kandahar operation, which comes after the successful campaign in Marja and surrounding areas in neighboring Helmand province, has been set so it can be completed prior to the August start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, CNN reported.

The planned operation in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, has been public knowledge for some time, but its date had not been known until now.

The CNN report quoted U.S. military officials as saying they expect the assault to last about two months.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, who briefed reporters Tuesday, would not confirm the June date but said efforts to oust the Taliban Kandahar were already under way, the CNN report said.

Morrell also mentioned the efforts of the U.S. special operations forces there including urging local tribes to work with the U.S. military and Afghan government.

Kandahar is vital as it was the Afghan capital during the Taliban regime until its ouster during the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. The CNN report said the Taliban remains strong there with some of the loyal population providing sanctuary to many of the militant leaders.

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