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40 recent Afghan insurgent deaths

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(CNN) -- A joint Afghan-U.S. operation has killed more than 40 insurgents "over the last few weeks" in Afghanistan's Konar Province, according to a statement issued Monday by the Coalition Press Information Center (CPIC).

The statement said that Afghan National Army units and U.S. Marines "fought side by side in 29 separate engagements."

Operation Whalers was aimed at clearing the way for upcoming legislative elections, the statement said.

CPIC said the operation took place in the Chawkay, Asadabad, Pech and Narang districts of Konar, in the east along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan.

Both Afghan and U.S. commanders had high praise for the Afghan soldiers.

"The ANA have demonstrated their abilities with great success," said Lt. Col. James E. Donnellan, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment.

"The willingness and professionalism of the ANA to engage the enemy will ensure success for the security of Afghanistan."

Mission commanders cooperated with Konar Gov. Assadullah Wafa during the operation, the statement said, and Wafa took to the radio to explain Operation Whalers to the residents of his province.

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