Forces of the Khmer Republic last week launched a major operation involving 15,000 men with tanks northward along Route Six towards the besieged province capital of Kompong Thom.
Forces of the Khmer Republic last week launched a major operation involving 15,000 men with tanks northward along Route Six towards the besieged province capital of Kompong Thom. It was the third major operation to be launched in seven days.
Khmer command spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Am Rong did not specify if Kompong Thom was the objective of the operation, but said: "The operation is towards the north as far as possible."
The capital stands on Route Six, the main highway from Phnom Penh northward around the giant Tonle Sap Lake and has been under virtual siege since the beginning of June last year. It was relieved briefly by a river-borne force last September, but it is only accessible by water during the wet season.
SYNOPSIS: Forces in the Khmer Republic have been pushing steadily along Route Six despite a Communist attempt to block their advance in the direction of the besieged provincial capital of Kompong Thom.
In its third major operation in seven days, the Khmer military high command has launched 15,000 men supported by tanks and air strikes along the highway leading northward from the capital Phnom Penh. The campaign is the latest in a series of monsoon operations by Khmer troops aimed at disrupting Communist bases and supply routes. So far, little Vietcong resistance has been reported.
The Khmer forces have also been launching an offensive against Communist bases and supply lines 22 miles west of Phnom Penh. Another offensive began last week in Prey Veng province between Route One and the South Vietnamese border. The Route Six operation has been code-named "Tkhenla Two" after the name of an ancient Hkmer kingdom and is under the command of Brigadier-General Hou Hang Sin.
Last Years' operation along Route Six following the same path was the first major Cambodian offensive operation of the war. It started in September, but became bogged down under heavy Communist attack at Taing Kauk, the northernmost limit of the year's advance.
The Khmer forces consolidated their positions at Taing Kauk, which is the jumping-off point for this year's operations. The Khmer high command claims that so far very little ground resistance has been encountered, but that over 100 Communists had been killed in supporting air strikes. Only light Khmer casualties have been reported so far.