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Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

“The Third Jihad” Movie

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 4, 2013

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Taliban Blusters While It’s Leadership Dies

Posted by Larry Barnes on June 4, 2010

If you understand why the Afghan tribal leaders have endorsed President Hamid Karzai’s plan to seek peace with the Taliban, on the final day of national peace talks in Kabul, you understand the principle of , Fight, Negotiate, Fight, Negotiate. Even thought the “peace jirga” ended by backing an amnesty and job incentives to induce militants to give up arms, the political desires of the Taliban are still going to be advanced by threats and intimidation.

Terrorist groups have said in the past that it would negotiate with the government only once foreign troops had left the country. This kind of bluster threatens to extend Taliban influence over the weak minded public, and not one inch in the field of battle. As the following story points out the number of terrorists available to make unreasonable demands is shrinking.

Taliban Leader’s Death Confirmed; Forces Seize Insurgent Sub-Commander

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2010 – A Taliban sub-commander was captured and several other suspected insurgents were killed or captured yesterday by Afghan and international security forces, military officials reported.

Officials also confirmed the death last week of Mullah Zergay, the senior Taliban commander for Afghanistan’s Kandahar City region, during a firefight with Afghan-international forces during an operation in the Zharay district.

During an operation in Logar province yesterday, a combined force captured a Taliban sub-commander who is responsible for improvised explosive device and small-arms attacks against coalition forces. The combined force was searching a compound in the village of Muchkeyl in the Kharwar district after intelligence information confirmed insurgent activity.

When confronted, the Taliban sub-commander, who has ties to the Haqqani network, immediately surrendered and identified himself as the targeted insurgent.

Also yesterday, a separate Afghan-international security force action resulted in the detention of several individuals suspected of insurgent activity in Ghazni province. The combined force detained the suspected insurgents while searching a compound in the village of Bar Nowruzk, Qarah Bagh district, after intelligence information confirmed insurgent activity. No shots were fired and no one was harmed during the above operations.

During another operation yesterday, a coalition helicopter attacked and killed multiple insurgents as they were moving to a fighting position in Farah province. Aircraft were directed to a cave complex in a rural area of Gulistan district, after intelligence information verified insurgent activity. After observing widely separated groups of armed men moving to prepared fighting positions away from the caves, aircraft engaged a group, killing the insurgents. A ground search force found two automatic rifles, ammunition and a grenade.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Mullah Zergay, the Taliban commander of the Kandahar city area, was killed last week by Afghan-international forces during an operation conducted in the Zharay district.

Zergay had directed insurgent activities in the Arghandab and Zharay districts, including Kandahar City. He used explosives in nearly all of his operations and was directly responsible for multiple deaths in Kandahar City, alone. He rose to power through violent intimidation campaigns against civilians and by leading kidnappings and executions of government employees and village elders.

After tracking his location for several weeks, an Afghan-international security force moved to capture Zergay in a Taliban safe haven area south of Kudeza’i in Zharay district. As the assault force approached, several armed insurgents attacked it with machine-gun fire and rocket propelled grenades.

The assault force returned fire and during the ensuing firefight Zergay and several members of his security detachment were killed. Zergay’s death is considered to be a major loss for the Taliban leadership in southern Afghanistan.

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Afghanistan Battle Continues Successful Course

Posted by Larry Barnes on May 21, 2010

Forces Detain Insurgents, Seize Drugs, Weapons

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2010 – Afghan and international forces detained several insurgents and seized illegal drugs and weapons in recent operations in Afghanistan, military officials reported.

An Afghan-international security force pursuing a Taliban commander in Kandahar province detained two militants in the Zharay district last night.

The combined force went to a series of compounds after intelligence information indicated insurgent activity, and two men ran away as the force approached. The two men were captured after a lengthy chase. They told the patrol they were Pakistani fighters, and that they had rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles hidden at another location.

In Helmand province last night, a combined force searched a small compound northeast of Marja after intelligence information indicated insurgent activity and detained several suspects for questioning.

In Helmand’s Now Zad district yesterday, an International Security Assistance Force patrol found and confiscated 39 bags of suspected heroin with an estimated street value of $3 million. The drugs were confiscated.

In Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district yesterday, an Afghan-international patrol found an assault rifle, small-arms ammunition, five magazines and a bundle of electrical wire.

No Afghan civilians were harmed in these operations, officials said.

In other news from Afghanistan, an ISAF helicopter was struck by an insurgent-fired rocket-propelled grenade today as it prepared to land at a checkpoint in Nad-e Ali. No one was seriously injured, officials said. The helicopter is at a secure site and a damage assessment is under way.

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Taliban Increasing Afghani Resolve To Resist Them

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 28, 2010

Afghan Civilians, Government Join Forces to Defeat and Remove Taliban
ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS

Date: 04.27.2010
Posted: 04.27.2010 08:35

KABUL, Afghanistan – Gizab District, locked centrally in the Hazarajet region of Afghanistan, recently was the scene of community resolve and determination when citizens took action to remove a Taliban threat from their village. The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with minimal involvement by coalition forces, is assisting Gizab residents in their effort to purge the Taliban from the area.

With harassment by the Taliban increasing, local villagers held a shura and decided to establish a road block Wednesday in an effort to detain insurgents. This action led to the apprehension of several insurgents as well as their weapons and motorbikes. A Taliban commander, responsible for coordinating attacks against coalition special forces in the area, was among those apprehended at the road block.

Later that afternoon, Taliban insurgents armed with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenades were preparing to attack the village. Local citizens, defending their homes and families, engaged the insurgents in a battle that lasted more than three days.

A combined patrol of Afghanistan national security force and International Security Assistance Force partners was conducting an operation nearby and responded, enhancing security at the village stronghold.

After three days of fighting, the insurgents were defeated and driven out of Gizab. Between the villagers and combined patrol, several insurgents were killed and four were arrested.

In the subsequent days, hostile action in the area has diminished, providing an opportunity for the governor of Dai Kundi, the provincial governor of neighbouring Uruzgan province, the local Malik and 20 other community leaders to travel to Gizab District for a meeting to announce their support for GIRoA and elect a district chief of police.

The combined force also attended the meeting Saturday to demonstrate their support for the people of Gizab and GIRoA. The combined force was warmly received by the villagers and leaders who said they were grateful for GIRoA’s support.

During the meeting, the deputy governor placed a phone call to President Hamid Karzai, who spoke to local elders and leaders and voiced his pleasure with the cooperation between the different elements, which ultimately removed 50 active Taliban fighters from the region.

“The villagers’ decision to react was fueled by Taliban members routinely exerting their influence and control over the people in the southern District of Gizab,” said Capt. Rebecca Lykins, a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan spokesman. “Their reaction is a testament to their confidence in GIRoA’s ability to protect and serve the populace.”

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Taliban Reintegrated in Baghlan

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 27, 2010

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 04.26.2010
Posted: 04.26.2010 04:50

KABUL, Afghanistan – Eight Taliban insurgents walked up to the gates of a forward operating base in Puza-i-Eshan Saturday to turn themselves in to Afghan national security forces.

The departure from the Taliban came in the midst of Operation Taohid II, an Afghan-led operation in the north designed to defeat the insurgency, provide humanitarian supplies to the people and enable development projects in the area.

Gen. Murad Ali Murad, Afghan national army 209th Corps commander held a shura with the Taliban members to negotiate the terms of their reintegration. Brig. Gen. Frank Leidenberger, Regional Command-North commander also attended.

“This is your country, when you fight against us here you fight against your own country,” Murad said. “An hour ago, you were part of the black name of the Taliban, but now we welcome you back as our brothers.”

Operation Taohid II is the largest operation the ANSF have led in the north. About 1,000 combat-ready Afghan national army troops are taking part in the operation, supported by ISAF troops from Germany, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Croatia and Belgium.

One indicator of the operation’s success was the securing of the Kuk Chenar (Dutch) Bridge and the return of large groups of civilians who had been frightened away by insurgents.

Civilian freedom of movement is now being further improved as work continues around the bridge’s base along the river. A large number of trucks have been removing loads of the river’s sludge to aid the flow of the river. Guard posts have been stationed on either end of the bridge to provide safe passage for residents.

Also:

Afghan Civilians, Government Join Forces to Defeat and Remove Taliban

Gizab District, locked centrally in the Hazarajet region of Afghanistan, recently was the scene of community resolve and determination when citizens took action to remove a Taliban threat from their village. The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with minimal involvement by coalition forces, is assisting Gizab residents in their effort to purge the Taliban from the area.
04.27.10, Courtesy Story

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Afghanistan Surge Providing Progress

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 26, 2010

Air Strike in Afghanistan Kills Senior Insurgents

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2010 – A senior militant commander in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province and two of his top advisors were killed in a precision air strike in northern Kunduz this morning, military officials reported.

The senior insurgents were driving through a rural desert area northeast of Kunduz City when they were struck by precision air fire.

The senior Taliban commander was involved in all aspects of insurgent operations in Kunduz province, officials said. He was responsible for setting target priorities, weapons distribution and directing attacks against coalition and Afghan forces.

In other recent operations in Afghanistan:

— In Kandahar province this morning, a combined Afghan-international security force detained several suspected insurgents for questioning.

— In Helmand province’s Nad-e Ali district yesterday, a combined patrol found an assault rifle, magazines, 130 rounds of ammunition and 30 pounds of homemade explosives.

— Coalition forces patrolling in the Dzadran district of Paktia province yesterday found 17 rocket-propelled grenades, nine fuses, four rear stabilizers and 300 heavy machine gun rounds. One individual was detained.

— An Afghan-international security force killed one militant and detained a few others as they pursued a Taliban leader in Kunduz the night of April 24. As the combined force approached a compound after intelligence reports of militant activity, they were confronted by an armed man, who was shot and killed.

— In Helmand on April 24, a combined force tried to stop a vehicle driven by the suspected militants. The driver didn’t comply and tried to escape. Shots were exchanged, and three insurgents were killed, including a Taliban commander responsible for assigning fighters and setting attack priorities in his area and involved in weapons delivery and battle-damage assessments after attacks on coalition forces. A search of the vehicle uncovered an automatic rifle and multiple grenades.

— Also on April 24, an Afghan civilian directed a combined patrol in Helmand’s Washer district to a cache containing 25 pounds of refined opium, an assault rifle, several magazines and a chest-bomb rig.

— In Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district April 24, an Afghan-international patrol found and destroyed five 60 mm mortar rounds.

— A combined Afghan-international security force captured a Taliban subcommander and a suspected insurgent and killed several other insurgents in Logar province April 24. As the assault force conducted a call-out, they were confronted by armed men, who were shot and killed. The Taliban subcommander, believed to be involved in planning suicide attacks, surrendered. A search of the area found several weapons, including an automatic rifle and pistols.

— In Kunduz’s Archi district the night of April 23, a combined Afghan-international security force was engaged with small-arms fire. The combined force returned fire, killing several insurgents and detaining a few others. Two of those killed were Taliban commanders, one of them being the target of the raid, who was responsible for distributing insurgent funds, designating targets and planning bombings. Though women and children were in the compound buildings, none were injured during the operation. The homeowner told the patrol the Taliban had forced their way into the compound for the night. International forces will reimburse the homeowner for minor damage to his property. A search of the buildings yielded automatic rifles, a machine gun, a rocket-propelled grenade, hand grenades and other weapons.

— In Khost province April 24, a combined force detained a suspected insurgent while hunting for a Haqqani terrorist network commander.

— In Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district April 24, a combined patrol found two shotguns, 40 pounds of opium, small-arms ammunition and various electrical components, as well as another cache consisting of two pressure plate initiation devices 40 pounds of homemade explosives.

— One militant was killed and several others captured by an Afghan-international security force pursuing a Taliban facilitator in Ghazni province the night of April 22. As the force approached the targeted compound, several men ran away. One insurgent moved toward the security force in a hostile manner and was shot and killed. Several other suspected insurgents were captured.

— Also on the night of April 22, a combined force in Khost’s Terezai district captured a Haqqani network bombing-attack facilitator and another suspected insurgent. Ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder and rifles were found on site.

— In Kunduz province’s Chahar Darah district the night of April 22, a combined security force detained a suspected insurgent for questioning. An armed man ran from the compound and later fired on the security force. He was shot and killed.

— In Nangarhar province’s Khogyani district the night of April 22, a combined force captured a Taliban subcommander responsible for directing roadside-bomb and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on coalition forces, along with another suspected insurgent.

— The same night in Helmand’s Reg-e Khan Neshin district, a combined force found a roadside bomb, three roadside-bomb power sources, five spools of copper wire, an intelligence radio, two assault rifles with ammunition, brass knuckles and 88 pounds of raw opium. After coordination with the village elder, the combined force detained more than 20 men in the compound.

— In Helmand’s Garm Ser district that night, an Afghan-international patrol acting on a tip from an Afghan civilian found 50 chest rigs and 19 magazines.

— A combined patrol found nine grenades, four rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms ammunition, homemade explosives, a timer and detonation cord in the Chorah district of Uruzgan province April 22.

–– A combined security force in Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district killed five insurgents the night of April 22 after receiving sustained heavy gunfire from a compound. A search yielded multiple automatic rifles, armor-piercing rounds, bomb-making materials and blasting caps. A Taliban suicide attack commander with ties to the Haqqani network was killed in the firefight, along with four other insurgents.

Two U.S. servicemembers died of wounds suffered in the firefight.

No civilians were reported harmed in these operations, officials said.

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Afghan Insurgents Killed

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 19, 2010

Combined Forces Make Gains in Afghanistan

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2010 – Afghan and international forces killed several insurgents and captured at least one other, according to initial reports of a firefight in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province this morning, military officials said.

The forces were moving through the Qarah Bagh district in search of a senior Taliban commander and were approaching a compound when multiple insurgents engaged the force with machine guns, small arms, grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades. The combined force returned fire, killing several insurgents.

As the combined force secured the compound, they continued to receive small-arms fire, grenades and heavy machine-gun fire from insurgents throughout the village.

A search of the target area revealed a vehicle-mounted 12.7 mm heavy machine gun, heavy-machine-gun ammunition, multiple automatic rifles, grenades, RPGs, RPG launchers, and communications equipment.

In other recent operations in Afghanistan:

— In Helmand’s Garm Ser district this morning, a combined patrol found a Russian-made 122 mm projectile, three incomplete bombs, five pressure-plate triggering devices and other bomb-making materials.

— In Kandahar province this morning, an International Security Assistance Force patrol found a cache containing five blocks of plastic explosive, an RPG and three RPG propellant charges.

— In Ghazni province last night, a combined force searched a small compound in the Gelan district and detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning.

— In Kandahar’s Khakrez district last night, a combined patrol came under small-arms fire. They returned fire, wounding an insurgent. During a search, the force captured a suspected Taliban commander responsible for leading armed fighters in attacks against coalition forces, and the movement of weapons and supplies. Several other insurgents were also detained, and the force found automatic rifles and a shotgun.

— In Khost province yesterday, a combined force was en route to search a compound in the Sabari district when suspected insurgents departed in two directions and one of the insurgents engaged the force. The security force returned fire and killed a suspected Haqqani terrorist group weapons trafficker. The security force found a machine gun, magazines and grenades at the site and detained another suspected insurgent for further questioning.

— A combined force targeted two suspected Taliban insurgents in a vehicle in a rural area of Kandahar province’s Daman district yesterday. The two
demonstrated hostile intent and were shot and killed. A search of the militants found 10 blasting caps and a probable homemade bomb.

— In Helmand province’s Nad-e Ali district yesterday, a combined force found two RPG boosters, an 82 mm mortar, nine pressure plate devices, eight blasting caps, 100 feet of detonation cord, 61 pounds of explosive material, bomb-making materials, 200 rounds of small-arms ammunition and a disassembled anti-aircraft gun.

— Another patrol in the same district yesterday found a cache containing six rocket-assisted warheads, two boosters, nine chest rigs, a pressure plate initiation device; a 50-pound jug of homemade explosives and miscellaneous shrapnel. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the hazardous material.

— In Kandahar’s Registan district yesterday, an ISAF patrol came across a burning truck that matched the description of one seen earlier avoiding a checkpoint. Troops searching the scene discovered that the truck contained about 500 pounds of hashish and heroin.

— In Kabul province’s Sarobi district yesterday, an ISAF patrol found 43 anti-personnel mines, 20 rockets, five mortar rounds, an anti-tank mine and 40 boxes of 12.7 mm rounds.

— An ISAF patrol Ghazni’s Gelan district yesterday found a five RPGs, 12 mortar grenades, two assault rifles, a shotgun and more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

— In Kandahar’s Arghandab district yesterday, an Afghan civilian pointed out a roadside bomb to an ISAF patrol. It consisted of an 88 mm mortar round and three shaped charges.

— A combined patrol found two trucks containing 2,040 pounds of raw opium, 1,875 pounds of processed opium and 615 pounds of hashish in the Garm Ser district of Helmand province yesterday. The truck’s occupants were taken into custody.

— An Afghan-international patrol in Helmand’s Nad-e Ali district yesterday found 150 pounds of homemade explosives and a 100-pound drum of ammonium nitrate, a banned fertilizer that can be used to make explosives.

— A combined security force captured a Taliban bombing-cell commander and other militants in Helmand province April 17.

— In Helmand’s Garm Ser district April 17, a combined patrol found a 120 mm projectile, five completed roadside bombs, three incomplete roadside bombs, three battery packs, some spools of wire, a bag of carbon rods, rubber tubing and other parts for bomb construction.

— In Helmand’s Lashkar Gar district April 17, a combined patrol detained several men and seized high-value material used to build roadside-bomb detonators. The team seized two assault rifles with 15 magazines, material used to build detonators, a pistol, two grenades, and 165 pounds of liquid opium.

— Based on a tip from an Afghan civilian, an ISAF patrol found a barrel full of mortar rounds, a tactical vest and wire, two 155 mm artillery rounds, a 155 mm shell and three empty casings in the Panjwa district of Kandahar province April 17.

— An ISAF patrol in Helmand’s Reg-e Khan Neshin district found 200 pounds of marijuana seed near the Helmand River.

No civilians were harmed in any of these operations, officials said.

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Tour Bus Terrorist

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 12, 2010

Afghan Civilians Killed in Bus Incident

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 – NATO’s International Assistance Security Force in Afghanistan is expressing regret over civilian casualties that occurred today after a bus was driven toward a patrol of international troops, military officials said.

ISAF officials released a statement that says ISAF “deeply regrets the tragic loss of life” in the Zhari district of Kandahar province early this morning after troops fired at a bus in which the driver ignored warnings and tried to speed into the patrol.

Four civilians were killed, five others were treated for injuries at the scene, and 13 people checked themselves into medical facilities following the pre-dawn incident, which occurred when a large vehicle speeded toward the rear of a slow-moving ISAF route-clearance patrol, officials said.

The convoy could not move to the side of the road to allow the vehicle to pass due to the steep embankment, officials said. The ISAF patrol warned off the approaching vehicle once with a flashlight and three times with flares, but the driver didn’t heed the warnings.

Perceiving a threat when the vehicle approached once more at an increased rate of speed, the patrol attempted to warn off the vehicle with hand signals prior to firing upon it. Once it was engaged, the vehicle stopped.

Upon inspection, ISAF forces discovered the vehicle to be a passenger bus.

The ISAF patrol provided immediate medical assistance to five injured civilians and transported some of them to local medical facilities.

A combined Afghan-international incident assessment team is reviewing the events.

In other news from Afghanistan:

— A combined security force captured a Haqqani terrorist group member believed to be responsible for improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The combined force was approaching a group in the Zurmat district of Paktia province when several militants started to run. One turned and charged the security force, and was shot and wounded. The rest of the militants were quickly cornered by the force and surrendered. A search of the militants’ tents uncovered multiple automatic rifles, grenades and ammunition.

— In Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province this morning, a combined patrol found a cache containing seven rocket-propelled grenades, two mortar rounds, 30 artillery rounds, eight 60 mm shells and other ammunition. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the cache.

— In Kandahar last night, a combined force searched a compound in south Kandahar City and detained two suspected militants for further questioning.

— Also in Kandahar last night, another combined force searched a compound west of Kandahar City after intelligence indicated militant activity. The force captured a Taliban member involved in roadside-bomb emplacements, defenses and assignments. Several other militants also were captured in the operation. The assault force also found explosive materials.

— In the Tirin Kot district of Uruzgan province yesterday, an ISAF patrol found a cache containing two RPG rounds, an RPG rocket and three boxes of small-arms ammunition. An EOD team destroyed the cache.

— Afghan soldiers detained a man with bomb materials and pictures of ISAF vehicles in the Sabari district of Khost province April 10 after members of an ISAF unit saw the man emplacing a roadside bomb. The explosives were destroyed.

–Also on April 10, a combined force searched a compound in north Lashkar Gah in Helmand province and detained two suspected militants for further questioning.

No shots were fired and no civilians were harmed during these operations, officials said.

(Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command news releases.)

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Taliban Fading In Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 6, 2010

Afghan, International Troops Capture Taliban Commander

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 6, 2010 – Afghan and international forces last night captured several insurgents in Afghanistan, including a Taliban commander suspected in several attacks against coalition forces, military officials said.

A combined Afghan-international force captured the commander during a search of a compound southwest of Kandahar City after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The man is suspected in a prison attack and assaults on coalition forces, and is believed to be part of the Taliban’s media efforts.

Combined forces captured several other militants during that search and others around the country last night.

In the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province, a combined force searched a series of compounds and detained several militants for further questioning.

In Khost, a combined force captured several militants while pursuing a Haqqani terrorist network subcommander. The force searched a compound in the Sabari district after intelligence indicated militant activity, detained the militants, and found automatic rifles, grenades, fuses, ammunition and a large amount of explosives.

In Kunduz, a combined force searched a compound northwest of Kunduz City after intelligence indicated militant activity. The force detained two suspected militants for further questioning.

No shots were fired and no Afghan civilians were harmed in those operations.

Meanwhile, Afghan and international forces are investigating two unrelated incidents of civilian deaths.

Four Afghan children were wounded today during a firefight between insurgents and international troops in Kapisa province. The children were medically evacuated to an International Security Assistance Force medical facility. One of the children reportedly has died from the wounds.

It is unclear who caused the children’s injuries, and the case is under investigation, military officials said.

Also, combined forces in Helmand’s Nahr-e Saraj district discovered the bodies of two women, an elderly man and a child, along with four dead militants, following a prolonged battle with insurgents yesterday. The bodies were found inside a compound insurgents were using as a firing position. Coalition forces, unaware of the possible presence of civilians, directed defensive air assets against the compound, officials said.

Afghan and ISAF military officials have launched an incident assessment team to review the factors leading up to the incident.

(Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command news releases.)

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Push In Kandahar Is Under Way

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2010

Kandahar Shaping Operations Under Way, Official Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2010 – U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan are laying the groundwork for their much-anticipated efforts to combat extremists in Kandahar, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in a Pentagon news conference today.

Morrell said combat operations will begin in earnest in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, he said, troops are engaged in what military officials refer to as “shaping” operations in preparation for the upcoming offensive there.

“The truth is they have begun,” Morrell said of shaping operations taking place in Kandahar, the spiritual center of the Taliban. “They have been months in the making.”

A U.S. Stryker brigade combat team arrived in southern Afghanistan last summer, marking the beginning of operations there. The Stryker vehicles are used to secure routes in and out of Afghanistan’s second-largest city, while other preparatory work, such as tribal engagements by U.S. special operations forces, are also under way.

Shuras – meetings of influential community leaders – are a critical component to shaping the eventual operation by gaining local support, Morrell said.

“So clearly, a lot of the preparatory work, the shaping operations that will be essential to ultimate success in Kandahar, are under way, and have been under way, frankly, for months now,” he said.

Morrell wouldn’t speculate on a timetable for major offensives to begin in Kandahar, but more forces will be dedicated to operations there in the weeks ahead, he said. More civilian support also will be required from NATO and the Afghan government to be successful there, he added.

“Ultimately, we need a more sizeable force to be successful there than we currently have in place,” he said.

Coalition and Afghan security forces are building on successful operations in Helmand province to launch similar operations in Kandahar city and province. However, Morrell stressed that forces in Kandahar would constitute more of a “facilitating” role, because the city has “some semblance of government control, unlike Marja, which was mostly entirely in the hands of the Taliban.

“There may be some foundation on which to build,” he said of operations in Kandahar and its government. “Therefore we would more in the role of facilitating additional government assets and support and security elements coming in, and that they could be more the providers of security and better government services.”

Kandahar will be an important operation to establish security in the country. The operation alone will not decide the overall outcome in Afghanistan, but it’s a necessary step to root out the Taliban, given the city’s historical significance to the Taliban movement, Morrell said.

“[Kandahar] is the likely next stop on a 12-to-18-month-long campaign,” he said. “It will clearly be a very important operation. We certainly hope it will be one that will break the back, to a large extent, of the Taliban who have called it home and who have used it as a sanctuary for some time.”

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