US Marines and Afghan security forces moved into Taliban-infested villages Wednesday in one of the Obama administration's first major military operations in Afghanistan.
The offensive began shortly after 1 a.m. local time in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. More than 4,000 Marines and some 650 Afghan soldiers and police were seeking to clear insurgents from towns and villages along the Helmand River valley ahead of the nation's Aug. 20 presidential election.
Called Operation Khanjar, the military push was described as the largest and fastest-moving of the war's latest phase. British forces last week led similar missions to fight and clear out insurgents in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.