ISLAMABAD - Security forces have launched what is generally described as 'mother of all battles to smash terrorist networks of late TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan Agency (SWA) in the wee hours of Saturday. However, the operation code named Rah-e-Nejat will be officially launched by the Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in a couple of days, official sources informed TheNation. The sources in the security organisations reveal that troops from the 11th Corps along with other paramilitary forces have been mobilised to take part in the operation after months of air strikes to soften militant defences forcing more than 900 civilian families, mostly belonging to Mehsud tribe, flee to safer places. The operation is supported by gunship helicopters and PAF fighter jets. Four soldiers were killed and 12 others wounded during clashes in Waziristan, the Army said. While, nine militants have so far been killed in the operation. The NWFP government has opened registration centres in Bannu and DI Khan for IDPs fleeing the war zone. The sources further informed that operation had been launched after securing a deal with Wazir tribesmen that they would not attack the security forces and would remain neutral in the battle. That is why a large number of troops moved into South Waziristan via Wana, the headquarter of the Agency. The security experts regard South Waziristan as a key base for foreign and national militant groups belonging to Al-Qaeda and Taliban. The sources disclosed that Army leadership had considered the weather as a primary factor while setting the timing of the offensive. Although snow in the region could block major roads, a harsh winter at the same time, could work to the Armys advantage by driving fighters out of their mountain hideouts, a senior security official told TheNation. The operation aims at capturing and holding the area that stretches roughly 3,310 square kilometres and where more than 10,000 insurgents are headquartered and reinforced with about 1,500 foreign fighters, most of them hailing from Central Asian regions. While some Arab insurgents from various Arab countries are involved in providing resources and expertise in training. The security officials are optimistic of the success of Waziristan operation saying it is challenging if compared with the military operation in Swat and Malakand division but not impossible. In a related development, Washington is believed to assure Islamabad that it was rushing to send in night-vision goggles and other equipment to aid the latest operation. In addition to night-vision devices, Pakistan military has been seeking additional Cobra helicopter gunships, heliborne lift capability, laser-guided munitions and intelligence equipment to monitor cell and satellite telephones. Our staff reporter from Peshawar adds: Fully equipped with gunship helicopters and artillery guns, security forces launched a fresh offensive against militants in South Waziristan Agency. Armed militants also attacked the convoy of security forces in North and South Waziristan and four personnel were killed while nine others got injured. They ambushed a convoy of security forces in Razmak wherein one soldier was killed. Likewise three security personnel were killed when a remote-controlled device hit their convoy at Kalkola area near Jandola. Three troops were also injured in the attack. The security forces also pounded the suspected hideouts of militants in tehsil Ladha and Sarokai areas at the start of the operation. Periodic fire was also heard in Makeen. The militants also targeted the check posts of security forces with ten rockets. Two soldiers sustained injuries in these attacks. Meanwhile, massive evacuation of locals is also underway owing to military operation. The residents of these areas are moving towards Peshawar, Bannu and North Waziristan. However, they are facing difficulties due to prolonged and unscheduled curfew clamped in the area and a large number of people are still confined to their homes.