Awesome – and of course underreported – news from Afghanistan:
Afghanistan’s government flag was raised Wednesday on what had been one of the biggest strongholds of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and a leading world center of heroin production.
The town of about 45,000 people was secured at about 9:30 a.m. as Afghan troops, steered by British soldiers and U.S. Green Berets, drove out remnants of the Taliban resistance from Musa Qala in the opium poppy region of northern Helmand.
As the only journalist to join NATO forces entering the town, I found it a ghost town abandoned by both the Taliban and its residents at the end of an eight-day coalition operation. The offensive was one of NATO’s biggest in the country since Operation Anaconda in 2002.
Embedded with a team of British troops and a detachment/”Aâ€“team” of U.S. special forces, I watched the Taliban being pounded these last few days with overwhelming force — vapor trails circled in the clear blue sky over the Helmand desert as B1 and B52 bombers backed by A10 tank busters, F16s, Apache helicopters and Specter gunships were used to kill hundreds of Taliban fighters.
The operation was launched last Tuesday with an attack across the Helmand River by British Royal Marine commandos, a thrust from the west by light armor of the U.K. Household Cavalry Regiment; all this, however, was a feint for the main airborne landing from the north of a battalion of soldiers of Task Force Fury from the 82nd Airborne.
Faced with a full brigade of NATO forces, a brigade of Afghan government fighters and the defection of a key Taliban commander, the Taliban chose not to flee at first but to fight a desperate battle.
Jules Crittenden has more:
Press reports will tell you that as many as 6,000 people have been killed in renewed Taliban violence this year, as the resilient militant group is resurgent, etc. Occasionally, the reports will tell you that about 5,000 of those dead are not even civilians accidentally killed when the Taliban use them as cover but â€¦ actually Taliban. The offensive followed some key local defections as locals reconsidered their involvement with the “militant” movement:
And Richard Lowry at OpFor reports that there’s good news today coming out of Iraq, too.
Sounds like another bad week for anti-war Democrats …