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Taliban targeted for Australian offensive

  • Story Highlights
  • Australian soldiers start "major push" against Taliban in southern Afghanistan
  • Operation taking place in Uruzgan province, soldiers deployed to Baluchi region
  • Australia has more than 1,000 troops in Afghanistan, five have been killed so far
  • The aim of this series of operations is to "clear out" the Taliban, officer says
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(CNN) -- Australian soldiers have started "a major push" against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, the Australian government said Monday.

An Australian soldier fires his machine gun during a training exercise ahead of deployment to Afghanistan.

The operation is taking place in Uruzgan province. The soldiers have deployed to the Baluchi region, north of their base at Tarin Kowt, where other international soldiers are based.

"This is an area of huge tactical and strategic significance for the Taliban extremists," the 4th Reconstruction Task Force's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Stuart Yeaman, said in a press release.

"This is the Taliban's backyard, and we are right on their main supply route between Helmand province and their supply bases to the north."

Australia -- not a NATO member but part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force -- has more than 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. Five Australian soldiers have so far been killed in the Afghan conflict.

"The aim of this series of operations is to clear out the Taliban, and then build the physical infrastructure -- patrol bases particularly -- which will allow the Afghan National Army and police, with support from the International Security Assistance Force, to dominate these areas," Yeaman said.

"Just months ago Taliban extremists were able to operate almost unhindered here, now the situation is very different.

"It's fair to say that these operations, which are happening across Afghanistan, are having a real, positive impact on the security situation here."

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