Afghanistan Ferocious Fight

Soviets mount a big offensive

The message was tapped out on an old-fashioned Morse telegraph key. It came from the province of Paktia in eastern Afghanistan and was received by a guerrilla listening post on the Pakistani border. "We have been without sleep for 48 hours," the report read. "It is the biggest battle of the war. We have lost many men, but we will not lose the war." The terse communication was signed by Maulana Jalaluddin Haqani, commander of an Afghan partisan group known as Hesbi Islam, or Islamic Party.

The accuracy of that assessment is difficult to verify, but one thing was clear last...

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