The Pentagon says reports that Taliban forces have taken over several
villages in southern Afghanistan are false, and that any Taliban
offensive in the area will be defeated. VOA's Al Pessin reports from
The Pentagon says a U.S. patrol in the Arghandab district of Kandahar Province Tuesday encountered no Taliban forces.
reports continue to indicate that hundreds of Taliban fighters have
taken control of eight villages in the area about 15 kilometers from
Kandahar City, where Taliban fighters freed about 400 of their comrades
from a prison on Friday. The reports quote local residents as saying
the fighters are preparing for a major battle with U.S. and NATO
forces. And a Taliban spokesman is quoted as saying his forces will
attack selected targets in Kandahar City next.
Secretary Geoff Morrell says it is not surprising that some Taliban
forces may be massing in some areas because this is the height of the
usual summer fighting season.
"If indeed there is a mounting of
Taliban forces in advance of an attempt to take Kandahar, they will be
put back again," he said. "In talking to our folks, they do not have
any imminent concern that Kandahar is about to fall to the Taliban.
Quite to the contrary, they remain confident that they have the
necessary forces in place to secure RC [Regional Command]-South."
says there is no plan to further increase the number of U.S. forces in
NATO's Regional Command-South, which includes Kandahar. But he says
the command has the flexibility to do that if it becomes necessary.
The United States sent 2,200 Marines to the volatile region earlier this year to beef up NATO's combat power.
his briefing Tuesday, the Pentagon press secretary also urged Afghan
President Hamid Karzai not to send his troops across the border into
Pakistan to attack militants based there. President Karzai made the
threat on Sunday,
"In terms of an Afghan military operation
across the border into Pakistan, that is not something that we feel is
necessary at this point," he said. "Obviously, Pakistan is a sovereign
country, so we would discourage them to take such a mission. And
frankly, there are significant internal threats to President Karzai's
administration at this point that he and his forces are probably more
immediately focused on. And so while his forces are increasingly
capable, we would encourage them to maintain their focus within the
borders of Afghanistan."
President Karzai's spokesman has
indicated there is no plan for an imminent attack on Pakistan, and that
the president was only making "a strong point" about the need for a
crackdown on the militants.