Taking The Sangin Valley From The Taliban

The Sangin Valley, an important Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan for the past year, fell to U.S. and British forces in less than three days, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports.

"We have proven that the Taliban claims that they would be able to hold this forever and that they were the boss in Sangin are not true," said Gen. Ton Van Loon, a NATO commander.

The NATO commander had just flown into the British base in Sangin that until a few hours before, had been besieged by Taliban fighters.

Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusilliers have been defending the position from constant Taliban attacks — 72 separate firefights in just 20 days.

"We weren't moving from this base here, I've got one company group and it took me one company group to defend this place and we were fighting hard," said Maj. Jim Taylor, commanding officer of the Royal Regiment of Fusilliers.

That's why last week NATO moved to drive the Taliban out of Sangin.

U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division faced an exhausting push towards the town, searching every house and meeting sporadic Taliban resistance with few U.S. casualties.

"I think the hard part, as always with these operations, is to come," said Brian Mennes of the 82nd Airborne Division. "I think the people are mixed about what they see, I think they are in a tough position because of the Taliban and their tactics they use against them."

For example, the body of one old man lay unclaimed in the street where he was shot.

Although the town of Sangin is now under U.S. and British control, you can still hear the sound of incoming Taliban mortars and rockets as the soldiers face pockets of resistance.

The fight is not over.

For now, the U.S. has taken charge of security, but it will turn the town over to the Afghan Army in a month.

The problem is that the Afghan soldiers still lack the supplies, logistics and weapons needed to sustain an army.

And they're not ready to celebrate the fall of Sangin just yet.

Their old enemy remains in control of large parts of this province. The Taliban may have lost a key power base, but they're not defeated yet.

  • Christine Lagorio

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