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1,100 Afghan police deployed in Taliban stronghold: minister

Two NATO soldiers killed in Afghan offensive: ISAF
Kabul (AFP) Feb 18, 2010 - Two NATO soldiers have been killed in a US-led offensive underway in southern Afghanistan, bringing to six the number of foreign soldiers killed in the operation overall, NATO said Wednesday. Both soldiers died in combat with the Taliban, one of them on Wednesday and the other on Tuesday, the International Security Assistance Force said. The soldiers' nationalities were not disclosed, in line with NATO practice. They were taking part in a combined offensive with Afghan forces dubbed Mushtarak (Together), which began on Saturday and aims to push the Taliban out of the Marjah area of Helmand province. In all, 78 foreign soldiers have died in Afghanistan this year.
by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Feb 17, 2010
Some 1,100 Afghan police officers were deployed in Marjah Wednesday, as the national flag was hoisted in the key Taliban stronghold amid a US-led assault, an interior ministry spokesman said.

"We have 1,100 extra police. It is a force to take over after the military operations in both districts," of Marjah and the district of Nad Ali, spokesman Zemerai Bashari in Kabul told reporters at the NATO HQ in Brussels via video link.

The plan is to eventually have 1,600 "trained and equipped" police deployed in the key area, he added.

The raising of the flag was a symbolic move after slow progress in what officials bill as the biggest operation in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government and flung the United States into a costly eight-year war.

Marjah is also part a big drugs production area in the southern Helmand province.

In Marjah we did not have police forces," the spokesman said, underlining the difficulties of the US-led surge to tame the region.

Since Saturday some 15,000 Afghan, US and NATO troops have been waging the offensive and have reportedly run into stiff resistance from Taliban firing behind human shields and mining roads, buildings and trees with bombs.

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Outside View: A test of wills
Washington (UPI) Feb 17, 2009
That war is a clash of wills is a cliche. Yet, as one of America's earliest naval heroes John Paul Jones understood, "men (and by extension women) are more important than guns in the rating of a ship." As the struggles in Afghanistan and Pakistan unfold, Jones's insight will be reaffirmed. But to what end? The current offensive in Afghanistan's Helmand province, called Operation ... read more

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