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Afghan sweep seizes weapons, drugs

February 20, 2011

A large-scale military sweep in southern Afghanistan involving Canadian troops has yielded the seizure of massive weapons caches hidden in fields around a tactically crucial region in Kandahar province.

The goal of the recently concluded five-day operation, planned and led by the Afghan National Army with support from

A Canadian soldier eyes a compound of interest during an operation in the village of Khenjakak, Afghanistan, on Jan. 4. The Canadian military has just wrapped up a massive weapons cache-searching operation in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province. (Steve Rennie/Canadian Press)

, a battle group nicknamed the Van Doos, and an American company was to find weapons and capture Taliban militants just arriving in the region.

In doing so, the coalition of 2,200 soldiers hopes to take some steam out of an upcoming spring fighting season. The mission is aimed at reducing fighting during the eventual handover of the Panjwaii district to U.S. forces this summer.

Items taken from the region included:

* Three massive weapons caches

* 113 kilograms of marijuana

* Three unexploded IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and components for assembling bombs.

CBC’s Peter Akman, reporting from Kandahar, said the operation was a show of force not seen in the southern part of Afghanistan in a decade.

Nearly 1,300 Canadian troops were involved in Operation Hamaghe Shay, translated as Same Team.

The mission was also heralded as a major step towards an independent and self-sufficient Afghan National Army, which engineered the mission and supplied more than a thousand soldiers.

Maj. Francois Dufault, the deputy commander of the Canadian battle group, said the aim now is to assist the Afghans and National Security Forces in efforts to disrupt the insurgency.

“They’re the tip of the spear at the moment in the way they definitely take the lead in most of the operations we are conducting,” he said of the Afghan partners.

The operation was supported by six sniper groups, a tank squadron, artillery troops and canine teams.

Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan is set to end in July. Find the article here on CBC News

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