NATO stages offensive to retake town from Taliban

KABUL, Dec 8 (Reuters) – NATO and Afghan troops have launched an operation to drive out the Taliban from a southern Afghan town held by the Islamic militants since early this year, a NATO statement said. 

The assault on Musa Qala in Helmand province began on Friday, backed by air support, the alliance statement said. It did not give details about the offensive on the town which the Taliban have held since February after a controversial deal arranged by tribal chiefs and British forces under NATO’s command broke down.

The main aim of the deal was to enforce truce. Afghan and foreign troops, mostly U.S. forces, have staged several operations this year to retake the town from the resurgent Taliban. Helmand has been for long part of a bastion for Taliban insurgents and is the main drug producing of Afghanistan which is the world’s leading producer of heroin.

Ousted from power in 2001, the Taliban are mostly active in southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan where more than 10,000 people have been killed during past two years in violence, the bloodiest period since Taliban’s removal.

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