|Tuesday, December 09, 2003|
|2,000 US Soldiers Fight Afghan Rebels|
|AP in Kabul|
Tuesday December 9, 2003
US launched its largest postwar offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents yesterday, sending more than 2,000 soldiers
into a lawless swath of Afghanistan to put down a wave of attacks that has undermined its claims of building stability.
The operation began as Afghan and UN officials warned that the accidental
killing of nine children in a US airstrike in Ghazni province at the weekend could drive more Afghans to join the rebels.
"Every innocent who is killed has brothers, uncles, sisters and nephews
- and behind them the tribe," warned Sadokhan Ambarkhil, deputy governor of Paktika, one of the most dangerous provinces for
Operation Avalanche, in southern and eastern Afghanistan, "is the largest
we have ever designed", Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Hilferty told reporters . The enemy "isn't going to know when we hit, he
isn't going to know what we're doing".
He gave no details about the operation, but said US forces were supported
by Afghan army and militia forces.
Taliban fighters have stepped up attacks, particularly against aid workers
and civilians, in provinces near the Pakistani border and in Ghazni and Zabul provinces, south of the capital.
Yesterday a Pakistani engineer was shot dead and another
disappeared when gunmen attacked their vehicle on the main Kabul-Kandahar highway in Ghazni. A French UN worker was gunned
down last month and three international workers were kidnapped recently.