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Military Officials Say Afghan Fight Is Coming

NATO and the Afghan military are about to launch their biggest joint offensive of the war, and they appear to be making sure the Taliban know they are coming.

On Wednesday, spokesmen for the Afghan Defense Ministry and for the NATO forces announced at a news conference that an offensive involving thousands of troops would begin “in the near future,” and while they did not confirm the place, they also did not dispute widespread speculation that the target was the Taliban-held town of Marja.

The deliberate publicizing of the offensive — with news conferences, press releases and public pronouncements — is relatively unusual for the military. There could be several strategic benefits — and risks. If Taliban were to withdraw in advance of the offensive and civilians had ample warning, there could be fewer military and civilian casualties.

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