'Foreign fighter' networks targeted in Nangarhar, Paktia
Afghan and Coalition special operatives forces continue to strike at the Taliban's "foreign fighter" network in eastern Afghanistan, with raids in the provinces of Nangarhar and Paktia. During recent raids in the two provinces, 14 Taliban and Haqqani Network fighters were killed, and an undisclosed number were captured.
In the Deh Bala district in Nangarhar province, Coalition aircraft targeted a Taliban sub-commander "in charge of approximately 10 fighters and facilitation of foreign fighters from Pakistan to Nangarhar," the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. The commander and a group of 15 fighters were targeted after breaking off from a larger meeting and were "walking toward an assessed insurgent camp."
ISAF's initial assessment indicated that 12 Taliban fighters, "possibly including multiple Pakistani fighters from Waziristan and Taliban fighters," were killed in the airstrike. It is unknown if the Taliban sub-commander was killed in the strike.
In Zadran district in Paktia province yesterday, Coalition and Afghan forces killed two Haqqani Network fighters and detained several more during a raid on a compound in the town of Mitah. The assault team targeted a Haqqani Network commander who serves as a " facilitator for foreign fighter and Haqqani camps located in Spera district of neighboring Khost province." It is unclear if the Haqqani Network facilitator was captured.
Coalition and Afghan forces have been conducting raids against al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, and the Taliban on a daily basis in the east. Most recently, combined forces killed Malauwi Ghulam Haideri, the Taliban's acting shadow governor for Nangarhar, as well as Qari Muir, who had previously served as the deputy shadow governor, the military commander, and the intelligence chief for Logar province. Combined forces have also targeted networks supporting the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba operating in Nangarhar.
ISAF and Afghan forces have also targeted Haqqani Network and al Qaeda camps in Paktia, Paktika, and Khost over the past several months. In mid-June, Afghan and Coalition forces killed "a large number" of Haqqani Network and foreign fighters during a major clash in the Jani Khel district in Paktia, and another 38 as they crossed the provincial border into Musa Khel in Khost. "Arabs, Uzbeks, Turks, and Chechens" were among those killed in the fight in Jani Khel in Paktia.
On Aug. 12, Afghan and Coalition forces killed more than 20 Haqqani Network fighters and detained several more during a raid in the district of Zadran in Paktia. ISAF described the district of Zadran as a "known Haqqani Network safe haven" which is "used to stage attacks into Kabul and the Khost-Gardez pass."
Al Qaeda maintains a strong presence in eastern Afghanistan, including in Nangarhar, Khost, and Paktia provinces, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.
The presence of al Qaeda and allied groups' cells has been detected in the districts of Achin, Bati Kowt, Chaparhar, Dara Noor, Deh Bala, Jalalabad, Khugyani, Sorubi, Sherzad, and Shinwar; or nine of Nangarhar's 22 districts.
In Khost, the presence of al Qaeda and allied groups' cells has been detected in the districts of Besmil, Khost, Mandozai, Nader Shahkot, Sabari, Shamul, Spera, and Terayzai; or nine of Khost's 12 districts.
In Paktia, the presence of of al Qaeda and allied groups' cells has been detected in the districts of Jani Khel, Zadran, and Zurmat; or three of Paktia's 11 districts.
Al Qaeda's extensive reach in Afghanistan is documented in the body of press releases issued in recent years by the International Security Assistance Force. Looking at press releases dating back to March 2007, The Long War Journal has been able to detect the presence of al Qaeda and affiliated groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in 49 different districts in 17 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.