Afghanistan escalates with USMC offensive in Helmand
Some 4,000 US Marines moved into villages in Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province July 3—a remote area that is at the center of the country's opium cultivation, which helps finance the insurgency. One Marine has been killed and several others injured in the operation. A roadside bomb in Helmand also killed the UK's Lt. Col. Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior British officer to have died in combat in Afghanistan. A Canadian soldier was killed in Kandahar when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. And in Paktia province, a roadside bomb killed three Afghans and a foreigner working on a road construction project. (Daily Times, Pakistan, July 4)
A US soldier was also apparently taken captive by Taliban forces in Paktika on June 3. He is believed to be held by forces loyal to Sirajuddin Haqqani. Late last year, the Haqqani network kidnapped a reporter for the New York Times and brought him to North Waziristan in Pakistan. The reporter escaped from the compound last month. (Long War Journal, July 2)
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