Local troops involved in Afghan offensive

July 2, 2009 10:47:09 AM PDT
Marines from Camp Lejuene and soldiers from Fort Bragg are involved in the major operation in Afghanistan.According to the Associated Press, it's the largest Marine offensive since the 2004 offensive in Fallujah, Iraq.

Officials said one Marine was killed Thursday and several others wounded. The dead marine wasn't identified immediately.

The troops are among thousands pursuing Taliban insurgents Thursday in southern Afghanistan. Nearly 4,000 Marines are involved and are commanded by Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson of the Camp Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

About 7,000 Marines from Lejeune were deployed to Afghanistan as part of the new force of 21,000 troops ordered by President Obama. About 2,800 soldiers from the 82nd's aviation brigade also are in Afghanistan.

It is not known if a missing soldier is from one of the NC troops. Little information has been provided regarding his identity.

According to military officials, insurgents captured the soldier in eastern Afghanistan after he walked off post with three Afghan counterparts.

Spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said the soldier disappeared Tuesday.

The missing soldier's family has been notified, but the military has not released his identity.

Two U.S. defense sources said the soldier "just walked off" post with three Afghan counterparts after he finished working. They said they had no explanation for why he left the base. He was assigned to a combat outpost, one of a number of smaller bases set up by foreign forces in Afghanistan, the officials said.

Zabiullah Mujaheed, a spokesman for the Taliban, could not confirm that the soldier was with any of their forces. The Taliban is just one of many insurgent groups that operate in eastern Afghanistan.

The most important insurgent group operating in that area is known as Haqqani network and is led by Siraj Haqqani, whom the U.S. has accused of masterminding beheadings and suicide bombings.


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