Canada

Operation in volatile Afghanistan district declared a success

Canadian commanders said Friday that troops have secured a strategically important area in the volatile Zhari district in southern Afghanistan.

Canadian commanders saidFriday thattroops have secured a strategically important area in the volatile Zhari district in southern Afghanistan.

The operation involved driving insurgents out of a part of the district near Sangsar, about 40 kilometres west of Kandahar city, and then establishing a strongpoint, or heavily fortified base.

The operation had two Canadian casualtiesduring its first day on Nov. 17. Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, Pte. Michel Levesque and an Afghan interpreter died when the light-armoured vehicle they were travelling in drove over a roadside bomb. Three other Canadian soldiers were injured.

Commanders saythe operation, dubbed Operation Tashwish Mekawa (NoWorries),was not a major offensive,but astrategically important one because of the involvement of the Afghan national army, whosetroops will remain in the area to monitor it.

"The way we're doing things right now is we get in with the coalition forces and theANA soldiers," said Maj. Richard Moffat, the deputy commanding officer with the Canadian battle group. "We put a foot on the ground, but we keep that ground."

"We've built a strong point with the ANA and they're remaining there."

The Department of National Defence said that as more Afghan troops are trained and positioned over a larger territory,it will leave nowhere for insurgents to run.

"The aim of this is to have a long effect… on the local population. And we're telling them right now that we're here to stay," said Moffat.

Canada has some 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, the majority in the southern province of Kandahar.

Seventy-three Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan since the combat mission began in 2002.