The United States plans to launch a new military offensive later this year in Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan, under Taliban control, a senior Obama administration official said on Friday.
"If the goal in Afghanistan is to reverse the momentum of the Taliban ... then we think we have to get to Kandahar this year," the official told reporters.
Kandahar is Afghanistan's second largest city. A major offensive there follows the current military operation in the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in neighboring Helmand province.
"The way to look at Marjah -- it is a tactical prelude to a comprehensive operation in Kandahar City," the official said.
He said the military assault in Marjah was "pretty much on track" but NATO forces still had several more weeks left.
Afghan troops raised their flag over Marjah as the town was symbolically handed over to the Kabul government's control after two weeks of fighting by a joint Afghan, Nato and US Marine force.
The senior US official told reporters that the military operation was "pretty much on track", but cautioned that it would be several more weeks before Nato troops had cleared the area of Taliban fighters.
ReutersLast Mod: 27 Şubat 2010, 09:39