Troops press deep into Panjwaii

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canadian and Afghan troops are pushing deep into southern Afghanistan’s Panjwaii district, the cradle of the Taliban, to cut off enemy supply lines in advance of a major coalition offensive in Kandahar planned for the spring.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canadian and Afghan troops are pushing deep into southern Afghanistan’s Panjwaii district, the cradle of the Taliban, to cut off enemy supply lines in advance of a major coalition offensive in Kandahar planned for the spring.

The move, designed to capitalize on recent NATO efforts to maintain a presence in enemy territory, is meant to interrupt Taliban movements into Kandahar city, said Lt.-Col. Jerry Walsh, commanding officer.

“The insurgency in Panjwaii right now is in a state of disarray,” Walsh said. “They are being denied the freedom that they’ve enjoyed in the past because of the persistent presence that Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and ISAF soldiers . . . have been able to establish over the course of the past few months.”

News of the move followed word from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force that more than 20 suspected insurgents had been captured in a 36-hour period in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand to the west and Khost, a tiny region on the eastern border.

The Panjwaii push is part of Operation Cerberus, the first in a comprehensive series of “shaping operations” aimed at securing the areas around Kandahar city.

Canadian and Afghan soldiers have spent the last four or five month living together in central and western Panjwaii, a staging ground for the insurgency, in an effort to make their sustained presence felt by the enemy.