Pakistani Army surrounds major Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan


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Map of the Ramzak/Makeen region

The Pakistani Army has surrounded two major Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan and is clearing a third.

Nine Taliban fighters and two soldiers have been killed during fighting over the past 24 hours, according to a statement released by the Pakistani military’s Inter Services Public Relations.

The military said the towns of Makeen and Sararogha have been surrounded and forces are consolidating positions on the outskirts.

Makeen is the hometown of Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan who was killed by US strike aircraft on Aug. 5. Baitullah was replaced by Hakeemullah Mehsud, while Waliur Rehman Mehsud took control of South Waziristan.

Waliur Rehman is thought to be directing operations from Sararogha. In January 2008, the Taliban ejected the Frontier Corps from a fort in Sararogha.

Meanwhile, Pakistani troops have entered Kanigoram in strength and are reported to have cleared half the town. The military said heavy fighting has taken place in the town, which is a stronghold of al Qaeda-allied Uzbek fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Islamic Jihad Union.

The Pakistani military claimed it controls the major roads in the battle zone in South Waziristan. According to Pakistani intelligence, “intercepts have revealed that terrorists are in great disarray and disorganized,” and Taliban fighters are beginning to desert.

But no senior Taliban commanders have been killed or captured since the operation began on Oct. 17.

The military is claiming success in South Waziristan and believes the operation will be completed by early December.

The operation has been focused on one branch of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan. The military signed peace agreements with South Waziristan’s Mullah Nazir and North Waziristan’s Hafiz Gul Bahadar. The Haqqani family is also being left untouched. These Taliban commanders shelter al Qaeda leaders and host training camps for the terrorists.

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracy and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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