NATO forces set to target Taliban birthplace Zhari

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London, Sept.11 (ANI): NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan look set to focus on Afghanistan Zhari District, the birthplace of the Taliban, which they see as a major southern nest of the insurgency.

Canadian Forces have tried for years to pacify Zhari, in Kandahar province, but without much success.

Now, the Americans have to secure the 300-square-kilometre district, and in this regard, three fighting battalions from the 101st Airborne Division, comprising about 2,400 soldiers, having been assembled in Zhari, Globe and Mail reported.

Canadian troops are in the adjacent district of Panjwai.

Securing Zhari is a key part of Operation Hamkari, a belated coalition decision to throw firepower at Kandahar to beat back the insurgency in the province, the spiritual home of the Taliban and the region that is believed to be their top target.

Many believe that this summer's battle for Kandahar may be the decisive campaign of the war.

The Taliban made a forceful return to Zhari in 2006, after its initial easy defeat by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Since re-emerging, the Taliban established an administrative structure in Zhari, including tax collection and courts. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) only honed in on Kandahar province this summer, after years of prioritizing the adjacent Helmand province.

Taking Zhari out of Taliban hands would help safeguard Kandahar city, the second largest in Afghanistan, as the district, which lies just to the west, is used as a conduit to smuggle in fighters and explosives. (ANI)

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