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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-23-10 04:58 AM
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Taliban birthplace next target for U.S. troops
Taliban birthplace next target for U.S. troops
By Denis D. Gray - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Aug 22, 2010 13:51:13 EDT

HOWZ-E-MADAD, Afghanistan As Army Lt. Col. Peter N. Benchoff prepares for an assault next month into the birthplace of the Taliban, he doesnt sugarcoat the hurdles his troops face in this crucial swath of southern Afghanistan.

Security sucks. Development? Nothing substantial. Information campaign? Nobody believes us. Governance? Weve had one, hour-long visit by a government official in the last 2 months, the battalion commander says. Taliban is the home team here.

Here is 116 square miles of Zhari, a district just west of Kandahar through which the insurgents funnel fighters, drugs, explosives and stage attacks into the city.

Its also an iconic, psychologically significant spot for the Taliban. Just about two miles south of the main U.S. base of Howz-e-Madad, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar ran an Islamic school, founded the movement in 1994 and nearby hung a warlord from the barrel of a tank after he raped two teenagers.

Senior commanders call the fight for Zhari the next step Phase 3 of a wider campaign to pacify Kandahar, the countrys second largest city, and surrounding countryside. They argue success in Kandahar could lead to overall victory, given that the Talibans power base is rooted in this region.
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