US-led troops in eastern Afghanistan kicked off a major offensive Sunday designed to root out Taliban, al Qaeda, and Hizb-i-Islami-Gulbadin fighters hiding in southeastern Nangahar province. So far, the fighting has killed at least three American GIs, two of whom were Green Berets. Local government officials say up to 50 militants are dead with another 40 “under siege.” The fighting has forced as many as 100 families in the area to flee. Early reports say at least seven civilians have been killed. The US troops, augmented by the Afghan National Army and close air support, are targeting “hundreds of foreign fighters” who are well-entrenched.
The showdown has been brewing since February when fragmented militant groups reorganized under the name “Tora Bora Mahaz (Front).” The group is led by Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the eldest son of the famous mujahadeen leader Yuni Khalis who battled against the the Soviet occupation. The Taliban forces, backed by al Qaeda, began to reoccupy the extensive underground complex that saw heavy fighting during the opening months of the war. By late May, the Taliban had declared the opening of the “Tora Bora front.”
The group’s first declared attack on Coalition forces came in March when a Marine Special Forces unit was targeted by a complex ambush outside of Jalalabad. The Marines returned fire, killing up to a dozen civilians. The incident precipitated the newly commissioned unit’s early departure from the country.
Countering the move, in preparation for the current operation, paratroopers and engineers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team began work on Forward Operating Base Lonestar in Par Wa Agam district in early July. The new FOB, 20 kilometers from the border, overlooks the foothills of the Tora Bora Mountains, where Taliban and al Qaeda operatives are known to cross over from Pakistan.
Nangarhar province is one of the most dangerous in Afghanistan. According to data compiled by Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan, there were 620 security incidents reported in the province from January 1 through August 12, making Nangarhar second only to Kandahar, with 774 security incidents. Kunar finished third with 613 security incidents over the same time period.
Nangarhar borders Kunar province to the north, which has been the scene of major battles between the Taliban and US and Afghan forces over the past year. Nangarhar also borders the Pakistani tribal districts of Kurram and Khyber to the south, and Bajaur to the east. The TNSM openly run Bajaur province after the Pakistani government negotiated a peace deal in March, while the Taliban maintain a strong influence in Kurram and Khyber.
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…The Taliban forces, backed by al Qaeda, began to reoccupy the extensive underground complex that saw heavy fighting during the opening months of the war…
I am surprised that the complex was not demolished after the end of the first round of battles. It serves no purpose other than provide shelter for the Taliban.
Or if not demolished, then hopefully listening devices were installed, or multiple booby traps. Doesn’t make much sense that such a natural fortress would just be left to the enemy to exploit.
Seems like terrorists backed by Iran , I believe they taken weapons from Iran .
Let’s hope that this scenario was planned for by the US and the complex was left alone as bait. Let them concentrate and feel secure before springing the trap ? Hopefully this is where some of the Paki camps evacuated to.
That’s a lot of mountains with a lot of places to hid. Even if we did extensive work to blast those caves there’s undoubtedly plenty more we never found.
Having spent many a pleasant afternoon wandering thru the remants of the Westwall and Maginot Line, I can attest to the difficulty of destroying fortifications made of rock and/or concrete. However, I’m sure we learned a lot about this area over the years since our last big fight there and that on-the-ground knowledge gives us an advantage we didn’t possess in Dec 2001. Or, as Greg has mused above, perhaps it was left as a lure to ensure we have a free-fire zone…time will tell, as always.
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 08/16/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.
It is the KUNDUZ EAVACUEES who were living in the 29 camps in FATA who are coming out into afghanistan, kashmir and iraq as ordered by Zawahairi.
Iran is helping karzai as acknowledged by him openly
In studying the maps, you can’t help but notice the way towns cluster exclusively along stream and river beds. In such primitive settings, he who owns the flowing water, owns the country.
It’s too bad that the Army discontinued the use of flamethrowers. They would be the perfect weapons to use against the Taliban up in those cave complexes.
Coalition forces are experiencing an unparalleled success it tracking, finding and killing Taliban.
Unusual intel successes.
Malawa valley classified project.
Our Paradigm Intel indicates the Taliban has been penetrated at the highest levels.
This mop up started in July.