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19 Sep 2007

PR# 2007-643

Afghan, ISAF forces launch
new phase of operation

Afghan and ISAF Forces have launched a new operation to target and clear Taliban from the area surrounding Gereshk in Helmand Province, in order to provide an enduring security presence in the area.

Approximately 2,500 soldiers are involved in the operation, codenamed ‘Palk Wahel,’ which began in the earlier today.

The operation’s mission is to identify Taliban Forces and drive them out of their traditional strongholds in the Upper Gereshk Valley. Earlier phases of this mission concentrated on a number of locations across Helmand Province.

ISAF and the Afghan National Security Forces’ key objective is to create a secure environment for the ordinary people of Helmand and to support the Provincial Government in its efforts to bring vital reconstruction and development projects to the Province.

During the initial stages of the operation, ISAF soldiers advanced to secure a bridge head and built a crossing over the Helmand River. They also conducted an assault river crossing, clearing and searching compounds, moving through Taliban held areas before ISAF military engineers established a joint forward operating base in the area of Gereshk.

“This operation is designed to protect areas within Helmand Province where we have previously made gains against the Taliban and pushed them further out,” said Lt. Col. Richard Eaton, ISAF spokesperson. “The presence of the Taliban in Helmand Province denies the local population the peace and stability they so desperately want and hampers reconstruction and development projects that are so important to improving their quality of life.”

 The operation is being conducted in consultation with local leaders and Governor Wafa.

“It is crucial that the Taliban are prevented from terrorizing the local people so that they can go about their daily lives without fear of intimidation,” said Eaton.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/