Strike footage of the clash along the Afghan-Pakistan border
The US military has released footage from a unmanned aerial vehicle detailing the controversial June 10 battle against Taliban forces right on the Afghan-Pakistani border. The US military maintains it fired at Taliban forces, while the Pakistani government continues to maintain US airstrikes targeted an outpost manned by the Frontier Corps and killed Pakistani paramilitary troops.
The US military said the clash began in Kunar province, less than 200 yards from the Pakistani border near the Garparai checkpoint. The fighting, which lasted for three hours, moved across the border as US warplanes pursued the Taliban as they retreated into Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal agency.
The video details a squad of Taliban fighters occupying a fighting position on a ridgeline right across the border from Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal agency. Coalition forces, likely a Special Forces team operating to interdict Taliban fighters crossing the border, were on a “reconnaissance mission” on the border when they took fire from the Taliban position.
The Taliban can be seen engaging US forces with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Coalition forces attempted to break contact with the Taliban and reach an extraction point where they could be picked up from a helicopter.
After 45 minutes of fighting, a Warrior Alpha unmanned aerial vehicle arrived to survey the fighting and provide imagery to direct air and artillery support. Twelve guided bombs were dropped on the Taliban forces as they fled the ridgeline and attempted to move to safety across the border into Pakistan. Seven Taliban fighters were confirmed killed in the fighting. “At no time did Coalition ground forces cross into Pakistan,” the US military stated.
The US military repeatedly stated that no “military structures or outposts” were in the vicinity of the bombings, refuting the Pakistani military’s statements that a paramilitary Frontier Corps outpost inside Pakistan was hit. The Pakistani military said 11 of its paramilitaries, including an officer, were killed in an airstrike.
The Pakistani government maintains the US military struck a paramilitary outpost in Mohmand. A Pakistani military spokesman “condemned this completely unprovoked and cowardly act on the post and regretted the loss of precious lives of our soldiers.”
“A strong protest has been launched by the Pakistan Army and we reserve the right to protect our citizens and soldiers against aggression,” the spokesman continued.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and members of parliament condemned the attack. “No one will be allowed to carry out such attacks in Pakistan,” Gilani said. The US ambassador was summoned to speak to the Pakistani foreign minister on June 11. The United Nations has begun to investigate the incident.
Cross-border incidents likely to continue as Pakistan abdicates control of its borders to the Taliban
The June 10 incident highlights the deteriorating situation along the Afghan-Pakistan border, particularly in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas and the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. The Pakistani government continues to negotiate “peace agreements” with the Taliban.
This year, the government signed peace deals in Swat, Bajaur, Malakand, and Mohmand. Negotiations are under way in Kohat and Mardan. The Taliban are not required to halt cross-border attacks, and Taliban leaders have stated they would continue to conduct strikes in Afghanistan. Also, in the case of the North Waziristan agreement, al Qaeda fighters are allowed to remain in the region “as long as they pledge to remain peaceful.”
The loyalty of the Pakistani security forces has also come into question. A recent study by the RAND Corporation said Pakistan security forces, particularly the paramilitary Frontier Corps, and its intelligence services are aiding the Taliban in conducting attacks inside Afghanistan.
As the security situation along the border further destabilizes, US and Afghan forces will be forced to strike along the border to prevent infiltration of Pakistani Taliban forces.