18,000 U.S. Troops Begin Afghan Offensive
KABUL, Afghanistan - Some 18,000 American troops have started a winter offensive against Taliban rebels in Afghanistan (news - web sites), vowing to eliminate insurgents who could threaten parliamentary elections slated for the spring.
The U.S. military said Saturday that it hoped the new push, dubbed Lightning Freedom, would persuade insurgents to accept an amnesty offered by President Hamid Karzai that could stabilize the country and allow foreign troops to pull back.
"It's designed basically to search out and destroy the remaining remnants of Taliban forces who traditionally we believe go to ground during the winter months," spokesman Maj. Mark McCann said. "It's going on throughout the country of Afghanistan."