ISLAMABAD - The United States military said Tuesday it conducted a major air and ground operation with Afghan forces in southern Afghanistan, killing "numerous" al-Qaida militants.
Based on months of intelligence gathering and planning, the operation was launched October 7 in the Shorabak district of Kandahar province and concluded Sunday, a U.S. military statement said.
More than 200 American and Afghan forces took part in the offensive, which involved 63 U.S. precision airstrikes while Afghan forces engaged in several ground battles against al-Qaida networks at two related sites.
"This is one of the largest joint ground-assault operations we have ever conducted in Afghanistan," the statement said, quoting Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan.
Shoffner said the al-Qaida sanctuary was struck in the center of the Taliban's historic heartland, demonstrating "the growing capability of the Afghan security forces."
"The first site, a well-established training camp, spanned approximately 1 square mile. The second site covered nearly 30 square miles [77 sq km]," he added.
Shoffner said the joint offensive seized a large amount of data and weapons, including anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenade systems with associated hardware, and warheads.
The digital media equipment collected from the site showed it was also a large media cell of the terrorist network.
"The enormous success of this operation validates our ongoing campaign. Working with, by and through our Afghan partners, we're building their capabilities while we fight our common enemies," the statement said, quoting General John Campbell, commander of for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.