The U.S. Defense Department has welcomed Pakistan's
offensive aimed at expelling Taliban militants from areas just 100 kilometers
from the capital, Islamabad.
But the Pentagon said Tuesday the real test will be whether the effort is sustained and the militants are actually defeated.
The U.S. reaction came after Pakistani troops, backed by attack helicopters and fighter jets, opened a new front in Buner district, pounding suspected Taliban positions in the mountainous terrain.
A Pakistani army spokesman (Major General Athar Abbas) said the military expanded its operation after officials obtained communications that showed that the Taliban had no plans to leave Buner. He estimated 500 militants were in the area.
The spokesman declined to give details about the number of troops involved, but said the operation is expected to last about a week.