Wednesday, December 12

The Battle for Musa Qala (6#) -

This operation has been codenamed
Mar Kardad, meaning "snakepit."

It has been described by military commanders as a
defining battle for the stability of Helmand province.

Taliban Stronghold Recaptured
Near Strategic Kajaki Dam Area:

*NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has described the Kajaki Dam as the project with the most strategic and psychological significance. The NATO chief says the dam will provide electricity to more than 2 million people and their businesses in southern Afghanistan once a giant power turbine is installed and power lines to the city of Kandahar are repaired.*

*More than 2,000 British troops, including Scots Guards, Household Cavalry and Royal Marines from 40 Commando, have been involved in the operation. British troops set up a cordon around the town while crack American paratroopers from the so-called Taskforce Fury smashed a route through Taleban trenches, and "dug-in" with defensive positions.*

Fierce fighting reported -
Trenches, mines and snipers greet UK troops -

*A battalion of US airborne infantry, a Danish battlegroup, Estonian and Afghan troops were also taking part, under the command of Scots Brigadier Andrew Mackay... A network of trenches, landmines, machinegun nests and sniper positions has been created in the town, which has been used by al-Qaeda terrorists and other foreign fighters as a base to launch suicide attacks and ambushes on international forces. Dozens of Taleban were reported to have been killed as the American 82nd Airborne Division pushed into the town.*

*Helmand police chief Brig. Gen. Muhammad Hussain Andiwal told Pajhwok Afghan News on Tuesday that the Afghan national flag will be hoisted in Musa Qala at the district headquarters in a big ceremony.*

PAN: The heavy fighting in Musa Qala has left mobile-phone service dysfunctional, adding to the problems of civilians.