Coalition forces fighting in Kandahar province continue to inflict massive casualties on Taliban forces in the Panjwai, Zhari and Pashmul regions west of Kandahar City. The latest round of fighting in Operation Medusa has claimed an estimated 50 to 60 Taliban killed during air and artillery strikes. This follows a weekend of fighting that claimed over 200 Taliban and 5 Coalition forces killed.
No Coalition forces were killed or wounded during the latest round of fighting. Major Scott Lundy, a Canadian Army officer and spokesman for NATO provides a status update of the fighting in the region.
Maj. Scott Lundy said earlier Tuesday that an estimated 700 militants were “trapped” in an area spanning several hundred square miles in Panjwayi and Zhari districts, some in fortified compounds, others moving in the open.
NATO has also reported 80 Taliban have been arrested and that another 180 have fled the fighting – some of the most intense since the fall of the Taliban regime nearly five years ago. “It’s a complex battle space. Some (Taliban) elements are fixed, others are moving,” Lundy said.
While no security cordon is unbreakable, the Coalition and Afghan security forces have an opportunity to strike a decisive blow against the Taliban holed up in the region. The Taliban who choose to fight from fixed positions will face withering air or artillery fire, and Taliban units that choose to move in sizable formations will be exposed to air, artillery and ground forces. The Taliban’s best bet is to lay down their arms and attempt to slip away from the fighting disguised as civilians.
Operation Medusa appears to be a meticulously planned and executed operation. While I was in this region in June, the Canadian Army was just beginning to reposition units in Zhari, and had set up a Patrol Base at the district center. Back in June, the Canadian Army hoped to achieve the results currently seen in Medusa today,but operations often fell short of expectations. The initial success in Kandahar indicates the Canadian and Afghan security forces have made inroads in the region, and are now gaining solid, actionable intelligence from their months of hard work.
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