Coalition, Afghan troops push on with massive offensive |

Coalition, Afghan troops push on with massive offensive

Associated Press Writer

KABUL, Afghanistan – Some 2,500 Afghan and U.S.-led coalition troops pushed ahead with a massive offensive in Afghanistan’s eastern mountains Thursday to flush out rebels believed hiding there, officials said.Backed up by military aircraft, the forces have killed six insurgents since the operation started Tuesday, but there has been no major battle, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zahir Azimi said.U.S. military spokesman Lt. Mike Cody confirmed the operation in Kunar province’s Pech River Valley was going on Thursday and was the biggest offensive this year. He gave no other details.Taliban-led rebels have stepped up attacks across Afghanistan in the past year, raising concerns for this country’s future.Kunar has been the site of some of the fiercest fighting. Last June, militants killed three U.S. commandos in an ambush and then shot down a helicopter with 16 U.S. special forces on board who had been sent to rescue them.The region – about 105 miles northeast of the capital, Kabul – has long been a militant hideout because of its inaccessible mountains and caves and the sympathies of residents, many of whom practice the same brand of conservative Islam as the militants.In Kunar’s main town, Asadabad, on Tuesday, a missile believed fired by militants toward a U.S. base landed in a school and killed seven students.In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Redmore said, “We’re taking the fight to the terrorists in their own backyard.””They gave their victims no sanctuary. They’ll receive none from us,” he said.Vail, Colorado

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