British troops pushed into a Taliban stronghold awash with opium poppies, drawing mortar and machine-gun fire, in the latest NATO drive to help the government take control of southern Afghanistan.
As Operation Silicon got under way Monday, the US military reported killing 136 rebels during three days of clashes in the once-stable west, the deadliest fighting in the country since January.
The British soldiers quickly came under fire as they filtered among the mud-walled compounds and deep irrigation ditches of the militant-held lower Sangin Valley in Helmand. An Associated Press reporter saw the troops respond with artillery and fire from helicopter gunships.
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