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Soviet Tank, Jet Moves May Signal New Afghan Push

July 30, 1986|From Times Wire Services

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Soviet and Afghan armor and aircraft movements southwest of Kabul suggest that a major offensive has begun against Muslim guerrillas in Logar province, Western diplomats said Tuesday.

They said the movement of tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopter gunships and jet fighters was the most extensive by government and Soviet troops this summer. Logar province is about 15 miles from the capital.

Reports of the heavy military movements followed by a day the announcement by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev that several thousand Soviet troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Soviet forces have been in Afghanistan since the Soviet Union intervened in 1979 to support a faltering Marxist government.

The envoys, quoting reports from Kabul, said about 75 tanks and armored personnel carriers rumbled through the capital heading south last Thursday and Saturday.

On Friday and Saturday, they said, nearly 60 helicopter gunships and jet fighters were seen flying southwest of Kabul and returning to the capital 60 to 90 minutes later.

In New Delhi, Western diplomats said the guerrillas have retaken control of most of Kandahar, Afghanistan's second largest city.

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