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NATO urges Afghans to evacuate Taliban stronghold

Coalition forces are planning a major offensive in the Taliban stronghold of the Panjwaii district and warning civilians to evacuate the area immediately.

Coalition forces are planning a major offensive in the Taliban stronghold of the Panjwaii district and warning civilians to evacuate the area immediately.

NATO has not announced a timeline as to when the offensive will begin.

CBC's Carolyn Dunn said that Col. Steve Williams has issued a warning to the Taliban in the area, saying that if they don't want to die, they had better leave Pashmul.

Coalition forces have been trying to take control of the area, which is about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar. Itis the site where several Canadians have been killed and wounded.

The vast majority of the civilians have already fled, mostly to Kandahar, because of the ongoing hostilities. But there are grape farmers in the area towork in thevineyards.

In the past,coalition forces havegone into the area, confronted the insurgentsand left soon after the battle was over, only to lose control of the area to the Taliban. NATO said this operation will be different.

International forces plan to stay in the area, maintain a security presence andoffer humanitarian assistance for anyone displaced by the offensive.

Canada has about 2,200 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

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