Afghan and NATO troops launched a huge offensive against the Taliban today, Reuters reports, starting with an air and ground assault on a valley in southern Afghanistan. Bolstered with hundreds of fighters freed in last week’s prison break, the Taliban has taken several villages in Arghandab, and has its sights on nearby Kandahar city—where NATO is bolstering security in response.
Twenty guerrillas were killed in the raid, as were two Afghans. NATO and Afghan forces hope to flush out those militants, who have reportedly planted mines to deter such assaults. “From a strategic military point of view, Arghandab is a very good place for the Taliban,” said one provincial council member. “It’s covered with trees and gardens. They can easily hide from airstrikes.”