Kandahar Offensive to Begin in June, Senior Officials Say

WASHINGTON -- NATO forces will launch a major offensive in the Afghanistan city of Kandahar in June, sources told Fox News, part of a new war strategy that began earlier this year with the offensive in Marjah.

The new strategy focuses on clearing Taliban strongholds while protecting the local populations and establishing Afghan control.

Part of the objective in Kandahar is to be done with the "clearing phase" of operations by the beginning of August, before Ramadan, two senior U.S. officials told Fox News. The U.S. and its allies already are laying the groundwork for the offensive by removing corrupt politicians from power to make way for new leaders.

The intent with Kandahar, officials tell Fox, is to rely as little as possible on major military offensives and firefights. Also unlike Marjah, the city of Kandahar is densely populated, so coalition troops are not encouraging the town to evacuate.

They hope to bring large numbers of U.S. and Afghan troops into the city at the height of the Afghan surge this summer, and to support the Afghan led effort to rebuild its critical infrastructure and governmental governmental institutions while inflicting as little collateral damage as possible, military officials tell Fox News.

Kandahar is considered the spiritual heartland of the Taliban and a stubborn holdout of insurgent fighters. The southern city was the seat of government for the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan prior to the U.S. led invasion of the country in 2001.

Fox News' Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.