Afghanistan's insurgent Taliban movement said on Monday they had launched a guerrilla operation to thwart a major assault by newly deployed US Marines on their Helmand strongholds.
Operation Foladi Jal, Pashtu for "iron net", would teach the Marines "a lesson", Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP by telephone from an unknown location.
About 4,000 Marines poured into the southern province on the border with Pakistan on Thursday in an operation called Khanjar (dagger) that is the first test of a beefed-up US strategy to tackle extremist militants in the region.
"In response to Operation Khanjar by the invading forces, we have launched Operation Foladi Jal," Ahmadi said. "Their Khanjar will get stuck in our Foladi Jal," the rebel spokesman said. "In this operation we'll teach them a lesson so they will never again dare to come into our areas," he said.
Helmand is one of the most intense battlefields in Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling several areas and using funds from a lucrative trade in opium and heroin to rearm for their fight against the fragile government.