Coalition strikes at Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan
US and Afghan forces have stepped up attacks against the Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan over the past several days. More than a dozen fighters have been killed and 21 more were captured, including a commander, during airstrikes and raids since June 27.
The US military reported that "more than a dozen militants" were killed during a series of airstrikes against "a pair of command bunkers" in a mountainous region in Khost province near the border of Pakistan.
Targeted in the airstrikes were senior Haqqani Network leaders who are "responsible for aiding in the movement of foreign fighters through the Khost-Gardez Pass and throughout Afghanistan."
Yesterday's airstrikes have been accompanied by a series of raids against the Haqqani Network.
Today Afghan police detained 11 Haqqani Network fighters during an operation in the Sabari district in Khost. Six of the fighters were captured wearing burqas while trying to escape.
On June 27, US and Afghan forces conducted a pair of operations in the mountainous Musa Khel district. US forces targeted a Haqqani Network commander in an airstrike. It is unclear if any fighters were killed. In a separate raid, Coalition forces detained six Haqqani Network fighters.
Also on June 27, Afghan and Coalition forces detained Said Marjan Jawed, a mid-level Haqqani Network tactical commander, and three of his fighters during a raid in the Zirok district in Paktika province. Jawed is "responsible for planning and leading ambushes and attacks in Paktika province," the US military said.
The Haqqani Network took another hit yesterday when nine of its fighters, including three "foreign nationals" were killed in an explosion at an IED factory in the Yousuf Khail district in Paktika province.
Targeting the Haqqani Network
The US military has heavily targeted the Haqqani Network over the past month. Led by the respected mujahedeen commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj, the network is well-organized in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Haqqani Network has been behind some of the most deadly attacks inside Afghanistan.
Over the past month, the US military has targeted Siraj and also Mullah Sangeen Zadran, a senior deputy, several times in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On May 28, US and Afghan forces assaulted a heavily defended fort in the mountains in the Wor Mamay district in the eastern province of Paktika near the Pakistani border. Twenty-nine Haqqani Network fighters, including six failed suicide bombers, were killed during the raid. Sangeen, who was the target of the raid, escaped.
Siraj and Sangeen were also the targets of two recent US airstrikes inside Pakistan. In mid-June, the US conducted several strikes in South Waziristan. The strikes occurred after the US received information that Siraj was attending a high-level al Qaeda and Taliban meeting to advise a Pakistani Taliban leader on his options against the Pakistani military [see LWJ report Senior Taliban leaders targeted in yesterday's Predator strikes].
Sangeen was also one of several senior Taliban leaders, including Baitullah and his deputy Qari Hussain Mehsud, targeted in an airstrike at the funeral of a mid-level Taliban commander in South Waziristan.
The US military has identified the Haqqani Network as one of the most dangerous outfits in Afghanistan. The US government placed a $5 million bounty on Siraj earlier this year [see LWJ report, US places bounty on senior Taliban and al Qaeda leaders].
Just as the US has finally admitted that Taliban leader Mullah Omar and his senior commanders are running their Afghan operations from Quetta in Pakistan, the Haqqanis have been labeled as operating from Pakistan's tribal areas.
"The Haqqani network remains one of the most lethal Taliban organizations operating out of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas," the US military admitted in its latest press release.