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1st NATO, Afghan Joint Operation to Press Insurgents Throughout Winter
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The first ever countrywide NATO, Afghan joint military operation, dubbed as Operation Oqab (Eagle), would effectively fight and press rebels throughout the autumn and winter months, an officer of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Wednesday.

ISAF and Afghan troops have killed about 150 insurgents in the southern Uruzgan, Zabul and Kandahar provinces since the operation was launched on Oct. 28, Brig. Gen. Nick Pope, chief of ISAF communication and information systems, told a press conference.

"It will draw together a number of regional operations into one coherent national campaign," he said, adding "The underlying purpose is to produce an integrated security campaign" to fight militants.

On the opposite, several Taliban commanders recently have threatened that Taliban fighters will launch more attacks in the coming winter and deal a huge blow to foreign troops in this country.

"The Taliban are planning a major offensive combining their diverse factions in a push on the Afghan capital, Kabul, intelligence analysts and sources among the militia have revealed," said a story from the UK magazine The Observer issued on Sunday.

The thrust will involve a concerted attempt to take control of provinces surrounding Kabul, a bid cut the key commercial highway linking the capital with the eastern city of Jalalabad, and operations designed to tie down ISAF troops in the south, according to the magazine.

The allegation can not be proved yet, while in the previous winters Afghanistan was relatively calm as militants quieted down due to coldness.

However, the situation may be different this winter as the Taliban have showed a surprising resurgence and comeback this year.

Afghanistan has plunged into the worst spate of bloodshed in the past 10 months since the Taliban regime was toppled down nearly five years ago.

Over 2,600 people, mostly Taliban militants, have been killed in violence this year. Among the dead are over 110 foreign soldiers, a number much higher than the 80 fatalities in the whole 2005 year.

Apparently, now ISAF is also intending to press harder on insurgents.

The ISAF officer Pope said the nationwide Operation Oqab becomes possible as ISAF, which has 31,000 troops, assumed command across Afghanistan early in October, and various operations against militants would be more effective if coordinated through the country.

However, obviously Operation Oqab won't be an easy task at all.

Five ISAF soldiers have been killed and 13 injured in the operation until Tuesday. And on Wednesday, a suicide car bomber rammed into an ISAF convoy in Kandahar province, injuring another two ISAF soldiers.

(Xinhua News Agency November 2, 2006)

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