The US has conducted yet another airstrike in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.
Two Taliban fighters are reported to have been killed after US strike aircraft, likely unmanned Predators or Reapers, struck a safe house in the village of Mosakki in the Mir Ali region of North Waziristan.
“One US drone fired two missiles on a house…. The target was this house and a car parked outside was also destroyed,” a senior Pakistan security official told AFP. “Two militants were killed in the attack and we have reports that more militants were hiding there, so the death toll could rise.”
The strike targeted “the house of a person known as Sadiq Noor in Mir Ali,” Geo News reported. Sadiq Noor is a senior Taliban commander in North Waziristan. Both he and Hafiz Gul Bahadar were the principal signatories of the 2006 peace agreement between the North Waziristan Taliban and the Pakistani government. It is not known if Noor was killed in the strike.
Noor is the second senior Taliban commander targeted in the Mir Ali region in three days. On Jan. 1, the US killed Haji Omar Khan, a close ally of Mullah Omar and Hakeemullah Mehsud, the leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Haji Omar sought refuge in North Waziristan after the military launched an offensive in South Waziristan in mid-October.
Today’s attack is the third since the Haqqani Network conducted a suicide attack inside a CIA compound at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost province, Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, 2009. Seven CIA employees, including the base commander, and a US civilian were killed in the attack. The suicide bomber is said to have been an informant who lived in North Waziristan and who provided intelligence on al Qaeda and the Taliban on both sides of the border.
North Waziristan has become the focal point of the US air campaign in Pakistan; the last three strikes have taken place in the Mir Ali region. Since the Aug. 5 strike in South Waziristan that killed Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, 17 of the 21 reported airstrikes have taken place in North Waziristan, while the other four were in South Waziristan.
The town of Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an Iraqi national who is also known as Abu Akash. He has close links to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar also have influence in the Mir Ali region.
Abu Kasha serves as the key link between al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the Taliban. His responsibilities have expanded to assisting in facilitating al Qaeda’s external operations against the West.