The U.S. military in Afghanistan says it has launched its biggest-ever ground operation against Taleban and al-Qaida remnants.
A U.S. military spokesman says some two-thousand coalition troops across eastern and southern parts of the country are taking part in Operation Avalanche. The spokesman says its mission is to crush the Islamic militants who have regained strength and have been carrying out attacks against coalition forces and aid workers.
However, the offensive is being overshadowed by the accidental killing Saturday of nine Afghan children during a U-S air strike on an alleged terrorist hideout.
Officials in Kabul say a joint team of Afghan and U.S. military personnel is at the scene in a remote part of the southern Ghazni province to determine the cause of the civilian deaths.
American military officials and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said they were deeply saddened by the tragic incident and expressed regret for the loss of innocent lives. They promised the coalition will make every effort to assist the families of the victims.
U.S. officials say the terrorist they were hunting, Mullah Wazir, died in the airstrike, but some Afghans in the area are disputing that account.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked the coalition for an explanation, and the United Nations has called for a swift and public inquiry into what it called a profoundly distressing tragedy.