US Marines and Afghan security forces launched an operation today against the Taliban stronghold of Baramcha in southern Helmand province.
Baramcha, a border town in the southern district of Dishu, is a known haven for the Taliban and al Qaeda in southern Helmand, and has been a major transit point for enemy forces moving into Afghanistan from Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Baramcha is across the border from the Gerdi Jangal refugee camp, where one of the Taliban’s four regional military shuras are based.
“The area is a Taliban command and control area that consists of narcotics trafficking, weapons and ammunition storage, improvised explosive device factories, and foreign fighter training areas,” an International Security Assistance Force press release stated. “Afghan and coalition forces are working together to remove the enemies’ transhipment center for fighters, weapons, and IED-making material.”
Seventeen Taliban fighters have been killed during operations so far, and Afghan official told Xinhua.
The Taliban in southern Helmand province receive the bulk of their support from the Movement of the Taliban in Baluchistan, a shadowy organization in Pakistan of which little is publicly known. The group supports operations against Afghan and Coalition forces, and operates without any restraint from the Pakistani military or government.
The operation in Baramcha is ISAF’s latest an attempt to deny safe haven to the Taliban in Helmand province. The districts of Dishu in the south, Bahgran in the north, and Washir in central Helmand are considered the Taliban’s remaining major strongholds in Helmand, while the districts of Sangin and Kajaki, as well as the Marjah area in Nad Ali, are contested.
In neighboring Kandahar province, ISAF launched major operations over the past several months in the Taliban stronghold districts of Arghandab, Panjwai, and Zhari. Prior to these operations, the Taliban had been in full control of these districts for the past several years.
ISAF believes that the operations, combined with its targeted campaign against mid- and top-level Taliban leaders, have put the Taliban in the south in disarray.