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US-Led Forces Recapture Southern Afghan Towns from Taleban Insurgents


U.S. officials in Afghanistan say coalition forces have reclaimed both towns in southern Afghanistan that had been overrun by the Taleban this past week.

U.S. Military spokeswoman, Lieutenant Tamara Lawrence, says hundreds of international troops Wednesday morning reclaimed the second village in southern Helmand province.

"Afghan and coalition forces met little resistance as they moved into the town of Garmser in Helmand province," she explained. "The combined forces received only limited small arms, rocket propelled grenades and mortar fire before arriving in the town early this morning."

She says coalition forces have already met with village elders and are searching the town for any militants who may still be in the area.

Dozens of Taleban insurgents captured the town Sunday evening after a 16-day standoff with local police.

On Monday insurgents also swept through a second village roughly 30 kilometers to the north for just a few hours. That village in Naway district is no longer in Taleban hands.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday evening U.S. Colonel Tom Collins rejected reports that the Taleban is gaining ground in its traditional stronghold in the south.

"The Taleban would love for you to believe that they are seizing these areas in pitched battles," he said. " But that's not the case at all. Essentially they are forcing out small groups of Afghan national police. In outlying areas, there isn't a large government presence."

Local Afghan officials there say Taleban militants still command significant support and operate relatively freely in the south.

But U.S. officials say an on-going major counter-insurgency operation in four key southern provinces, including Helmand, has seriously disrupted the Taleban's network.

The hard-line Islamic Taleban government - which supported the al-Qaida terrorist network - was ousted from power in 2001 in a U.S.-led military operation. U.S. and international soldiers continue to fight the Taleban insurgency and provide security to Afghanistan's fledgling democratic government.

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