A joint brigade-sized Afghan and U.S. operation in Kunar Province
The Taliban has regrouped in Pakistan and stepped up attacks on Coalition forces and civilians alike. The Coalition has been active in stepping up securing, and has now launched Operation Mountain Lion in the Pech Valley of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Six Taliban have been killed in the fighting so far.
The Department of Defense provides the order of battle, “Soldiers from 3rd Brigade of the Afghan National Army’s 203rd Corps are fighting alongside servicemembers from the coalition’s Task Force Spartan, made up of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division and 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment Marines from Task Force Lava.” About 2,500 Afghan and U.S. forces are engaged in the fight. the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force are providing air support and UAV intelligence platforms.
In the first weeks of March, Afghan and Coalition forces killed eleven Taliban in the Pech River Valley after taking four casualties in a roadside bombing. At the end of March, the Marines of the 3/1 battled against Taliban fighters while patroling in the Shuryak Valley of Kunar Province, killing twenty of the enemy. Kunar Province and the Pech River Valley lie directly across the border from Damadola, Pakistan, where a U.S. Predator strike killed five senior al Qaeda commanders, including Abu Khattab, al Qaeda’s master bomb maker and head of its chemical weapons program. The main target of the strike was Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s number two in command.
Across the border, the Pakistani military conducts a helicopter strike of its own in the town of Miranshah in North Waziristan. Intelligence states “foreigners” [code for al Qaeda] were included in those killed, and the Pakistanis are searching to see if any high-value targets were among the dead.