Pakistani, Saudi fighters killed in Helmand operation
Afghanistan's interior minister said today that seven Pakistani and Saudi nationals were among 27 Taliban fighters killed during raids by special operations forces in the Washir and Girshk districts in Helmand province. From TOLONews:
Twenty-seven insurgents were killed, including commanders, during two operations in Helmand province launched by Afghan special forces, Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Sunday.
Of those killed, seven were found to be citizens of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.
The operation in two districts landed a severe hit against the Taliban, Sediqqi said.
"Our special police were able to give the biggest blow to the Taliban," he said.
"The operations were launched in Fulad area of the Washir district and the Hyderabad area of the Grishik district in Helmand province in which 27 Taliban were killed and three others were detained."
The Saudis and Pakistanis were likely associated with the Mullah Dadullah Front, a wing of the Taliban in the south that has adopted al Qaeda's tactics and ideology. The Mullah Dadullah Front is led by Mullah Adbul Qayoum Zakir, the former Guantanamo detainee who has since been promoted as the Taliban's top military commander and co-leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura. The radical Taliban wing is thought to be behind the series of recent suicide assaults and assassinations in Kandahar [see LWJ report, Suicide bomber assassinates Kandahar police chief].
The news of the raid in Helmand comes the same day The Guardian reports that documents seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad show that just weeks before his death, bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar were in contact to discuss strategy in Afghanistan. No surprises here, as a close relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda can be surmised from tracking the latter's operations in Afghanistan. From The Guardian:
Documents found in the house where Osama bin Laden was killed a year ago show a close working relationship between top al-Qaida leaders and Mullah Omar, the overall commander of the Taliban, including frequent discussions of joint operations against Nato forces in Afghanistan, the Afghan government and targets in Pakistan.
The communications show a three-way conversation between Bin Laden, his then deputy Ayman Zawahiri and Omar, who is believed to have been in Pakistan since fleeing Afghanistan after the collapse of his regime in 2001.
They indicate a "very considerable degree of ideological convergence", a Washington-based source familiar with the documents told the Guardian....
Some communications in the documents date back several years but others are said to be from only weeks before the raid on 2 May last year in which Bin Laden died.
"Questions and issues come up. They don't see eye to eye on everything but it's clear they understand they have an interest in co-operating [on attacks against Nato, Afghan government and Pakistani targets]," the source said. "Of those engaged in the conversation, two [Zawahiri and Omar] are still alive today and there is no reason to believe that either has substantially changed his views in the last year."