US drones kill 5 'militants' in South Waziristan strike
The US killed five "militants" in a drone strike today in an area of Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan. The strike is the second reported by the US in Pakistan in the past four days.
The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired a pair of missiles at what was described by AFP as "a base of the TTP," or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Five "militants" were killed in the strike and two more were wounded, Pakistani intelligence officials said. The Taliban "base," which was located in the village of Sararogha, was leveled in the airstrike.
No senior al Qaeda or Taliban commanders or operatives are reported to have been killed in the attack.
The village of Sararogha has been a stronghold of the al Qaeda-linked Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. In the past, Waliur Rehman, the head of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is said to have directed operations from the village. Although the Pakistani military claimed it liberated Sararogha during an offensive that began in the fall of 2009, the fact that the US launched a drone strike in the village today indicates it is far from being under the control of the security forces.
An infamous peace agreement between the Pakistani military and Baitullah Mehsud, the founder of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, is named after Sararogha, as the agreement was signed in the village. The Sararogha Accord, which was reached in 2005, called for the military and the Taliban to end attacks on each other. The Taliban were not required to reject al Qaeda or stop sheltering its leaders and operatives, nor did the pact require the Taliban to lay down their arms. The truce remained in place until the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan announced its formation in 2007 and declared war against the state.
The strike in South Waziristan is the first in the tribal agency since Feb. 8, when the drones killed two Arabs who were identified as Sheikh Abu Waqas, a Yemeni explosives expert, and Abu Majid al Iraqi; four Uzbeks, who were likely from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan; and a Taliban member.
In early January, the US launched three strikes in South Waziristan and killed two top Taliban leaders. On Jan. 6, the US killed Wali Mohammed, a commander in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. Three days prior, the US killed Mullah Nazir, a self-professed al Qaeda commander who led another Taliban group in the western part of South Waziristan that is not affiliated with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and several of his staff. And on Jan. 2, US drones killed five "militants" in an area under Nazir's control.
Today's strike is the second in Pakistan this month. The last strike, which occurred in the neighboring tribal agency of North Waziristan, took place on April 14. In that airstrike, five "militants" were said to have been killed.
The US has launched 13 drone strikes in Pakistan so far this year, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. The number of strikes in Pakistan has decreased since the peak in 2010, when 117 such attacks were recorded. In 2011, 64 strikes were launched in Pakistan, and in 2012 there were 46 strikes.
The US has targeted al Qaeda's top leaders and its external operations network, as well as the assortment of Taliban and Pakistani jihadist groups operating in the region. The strikes have been confined mostly to North and South Waziristan. Of the 338 strikes recorded since 2004, 321, or 95%, have taken place in the two tribal agencies.