The fighting in southeastern Afghanistan continues as Coalition and Afghan forces press into previously unpatroled Taliban strongholds. Over the weekend clashes occurred in Kandahar, Helmand and Ghazni provinces. These provinces have been the scene of the majority of the fighting over the past few months.
(as of yet unnamed) were killed during Coalition air strikes “on an isolated insurgent training facility” near the town of Qal’a Sak, which is on the Pakistani border in the south of Helmand province. Coalition forces followed up the air strikes with a raid, confirmed the targets were destroyed, and discovered an IED factory. Up to fifty Taliban are estimated to have been killed in a seperate air strike in the Kajaki district of Helmand. The BBC’s Alastair Leithead provides an update on last week’s fighting in Musa Qala, where an Afghan police patrol was ambushed by a large Taliban force, and beaten back after Afghan and British reinforcements were called as reinforcements.
The Afghan police continues to be a target of the Taliban, as their training and equipment is lacking compared to that of the Afghan Army and Coalition forces. Another Afghan police patrol was ambushed in Ghazni province, with one policeman killed and six wounded. The police fought back, killing three Taliban in the counterattack.
Kandahar’s Panjwai district remains a focus of joint Afghan and Coalition operations. Canadian Press’ Bob Weber describes the fighting as the “Battle of Panjwai,” and describes how the Canadians of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the Afghan police and army conducted a cordon and search operation in the town of Banzya, and reacted to a Taliban ambush. Ten Taliban were captured during the operation. Contact with the Taliban was also made in the village of Pashmul.
Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban military commander, has appeared on Al Jazeera, and claimed the Taliban is now in control of southeastern Afghanistan and is specifically targeting NATO forces (the Daily Times report states Dadullah claims to control southwestern Afghanistan, but the bulk of the NATO deployment is in southeastern Afghanistan). This confirms prior reports the Taliban is looking to fracture the NATO mission in Afghanistan as the Taliban believes the various NATO governments and their citizens do not have the will to fight a protracted insurgency in Afghanistan. Dadullah was thought to have been captured over a week ago, but his arrest was never confirmed by Coalition or Afghan authorities.