The Pakistani Army has reportedly begun preliminary preparations to launch the final phase of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in mid-July to eliminate the Taliban militants from their remaining hideouts along the border with Afghanistan.
The final offensive is expected to target south of Dattakhel through the forested and mountainous Shawal Valley. A large number of militants, who fled the operation in other parts of North Waziristan, are believed to have taken refuge in the valley, touted to be an Al Qaeda sanctuary and a stronghold of Gul Bahadur, a warlord who was once pro-government, reported the Dawn.
The valley was also targeted by the drone attacks carried out by the United States earlier this year, in which a total of 43 suspected militants were killed.
According to the army, 2,763 terrorists have been eliminated since the launch of the operation last year.