Afghan operation kills 27 rebels

KABUL: Troops killed 27 suspected insurgents in southern Afghanistan, where thousands of US Marines and British soldiers are conducting a major offensive against the Taliban, the Afghan army said Tuesday.

The militants were killed in fighting with Afghan and NATO-led troops in Gereshk district, one of several areas in Helmand province where troops have been hunting insurgents, the Afghan army corps commander for the south said.

"Fighting erupted during which 27 enemy were killed," General Sher Mohammad Zazai told AFP.

Thousands of British troops are pushing into insurgent strongholds in the area, which is near Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, while about 4,000 Marines are operating in the south of the troubled province.

Afghan security forces are also involved in the operations -- some of the biggest against the Taliban since they were overthrown in the 2001 US-led invasion.

The Marines deployed last Thursday. British troops have been operating in the area for weeks.