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Gains of Operation Medusa on verge of being overturned by Taliban

Operation Medusa was a two-week land battle in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province that began in early September 2006. Canada’s troops did the job and drove the Taliban out of village districts such as Panjwaii and Zhari. Twelve Canadian soldiers died in the fighting.

However, nearly 11 years later, the Taliban threaten to retake control of their old territory, which sits west of the provincial capital of Kandahar City.

From CBCNews.ca (“Real tragedy of Operation Medusa is that Taliban may soon win back ground hard won by Canadian troops“):

Close observers of the war believe Taliban fighters are poised to target both Zhari and Panjwaii as part of a plan to stitch together the whole Pashtun heartland of Afghanistan under their oppressive control. …

U.S. Army veteran Bill Roggio is editor of the Long War Journal, a publication of Washington’s Foundation for the Defence of Democracies that maintains an up-to-date map of who controls Afghanistan.

In 2006, he was in Kandahar embedded with the Canadian Army’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

“The Canadian Army was very professional, and very proficient on the battlefield and was able to deal the Taliban tactical defeats,” he recalls.

Operation Medusa targeted a network of villages used by the Taliban as a staging area for attacks on the nearby provincial capital. The campaigns yielded results, Roggio says.

“The Taliban don’t even claim to control any territory in those areas,” says Roggio.

It is a measure of the coalition’s success in the Taliban heartland that Kandahar City remains relatively safe from Taliban attacks, even as the insurgents successfully assault cities and regions far from their traditional base.

But Roggio says the Taliban is now closing a noose around central Kandahar.

“They have a belt of control that runs from Farah province, through northern and central Helmand, northern Kandahar and Uruzgan, and Zabul and Ghazni. It’s a whole slew of districts that the Taliban control or heavily contest, and use as bases to launch operations.” …

Roggio says it is telling that the coalition and Afghan government have been justifying recent withdrawals from areas they once fought hard to defend on the grounds that they are rural, remote, and therefore unimportant.

“These rural areas are extremely important to the Taliban. They’re following a classic Maoist insurgency model of using the rural areas to attack the populated centres.”

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