Afghan, US forces kill 55 Taliban after ambush

Map of Paktika province. Click to view.

US and Afghan forces fought a major battle with the Taliban and “inflicted heavy casualties” on the force just miles from the Pakistani border on June 20, Combined Joint Task Force – 101 reported.

More than 55 Taliban fighters, including three senior leaders, were reported killed, 25 were wounded and three were captured by a combined air and ground counterattack after a Taliban force ambushed a patrol in Paktika province. “Patrols in the ambush area continue to report additional enemy casualties,” the US military reported.

The attack occurred in the northeastern corner of Paktika province, close to the Pakistani border on a road between the districts of Zirok and Orgun districts. The US Army maintains Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in the region to interdict Taliban cross border raids.

The region borders the lawless Pakistani tribal agency of North Waziristan, where cross border incidents are on the rise. On June 21, six rockets and mortars were fired from North Waziristan into Paktika province, killing one Afghan woman and three children.

The Pakistani Taliban maintains a stronghold in North Waziristan. The powerful Haqqani family is based in the region. The Haqqani family runs several mosques and madrassa, or religious schools, near Miramshah. The Pakistani government closed down the radical Haqqani-run Manba Ulom madrassa after the US commenced Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, but the school was reopened in 2004. The Manba Ulom madrassa has been described as a center of jihadi activities, where top Taliban and al Qaeda commanders meet.

Siraj Haqqani, the son of renowned Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, is one of the senior Taliban leaders in North Waziristan. He has close ties to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. He has embraced al Qaeda’s tactics and ideology, and has recruited foreign terrorists to act as suicide bombers and operatives inside Afghanistan. Siraj is believed to be running the Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan and has become a focal point of Coalition operations. The US military has put out a $200,000 bounty for Siraj’s arrest. Taliban commanders Hafiz Gul Bahadar and Sadiq Noor also operate in North Waziristan.

On March 12, the US military fired guided missiles from Afghanistan into a compound run by Siraj Haqqani, the wanted Taliban leader behind numerous attacks in Afghanistan. The attack is believed to have killed three senior Haqqani network commanders and “many” Chechen fighters.

The Taliban and al Qaeda are known to run 29 training camps in North and neighboring South Waziristan.

The Pakistani government signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in North Waziristan in February 2008. The prior agreement, signed in September 2006, resulted in the Taliban takeover of the district and an increase in attack inside both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Massed Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are on the rise since the spring, when the Taliban largely focused on suicide and roadside bomb attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces. The Taliban conducted a bold raid against a prison in Kandahar. More than 1,100 prisoners, including 400 Taliban fighters, were sprung from the Sarposa prison by a well-trained assault force.

Days later, an estimated 500 Taliban fighters took over a series of villages in the Arghandab district just north of the city of Kandahar. An Afghan battalion and Coalition forces immediately launched an assault and freed the district. An estimated 100 Taliban were reported killed in the fighting.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • elfman2 says:

    It make you wonder exactly how the Taliban could “initiate”

  • Icon says:

    Excellent coverage, as always. With so many killed, are the mainstream media totally missing the stories, or, are we getting inflated body counts? Thank you.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    I haven’t detected that ISAF/NATO/CJTF-101 have inflated enemy casualties. During the recent fighting in Kandahar, Canadian generals were quick to downplay the governor’s claims of hundreds killed, and CJTF-101 has been obscure on releases when they can make up numbers.

  • tyrone says:

    From what I have been able to gleen from multiple reports, a number of things come into play in situations where the enemy is losing large numbers of KIA compared to coalition forces. The main factor is frequently air power. Contributing factors are open terrain (vs an urban or village environment), training of coalition personal in using indirect fire and in tactics. It seems to play out like this – small coalition force is attacked by a much larger enemy force using automatic rifles, RPGs, and mortars. Coalition takes fighting positions and counters with similar weapons, holding its own and better until air assets arrive. Air assets then quickly turn the tide eliminating many attackers and routing the rest. In open terrain without structures, its very hard for the enemy to hide and the coalition does not have to worry much about civilians who might be in the structures when present. In many of these firefights it is the Apaches, the JDAMs, and the A10 Warthogs that make the big difference.
    I don’t think the MSM cares much about the war unless it is going badly. They love to report on mass casualty suicide bombings and high profile failures like the prison break recently. For what ever reason, successes are less interesting and are often turned into failures in MSM reporting. For example the IA failed in Basrah if you listen to the MSM because they did not win and win big in the first 24 hours. By the time it was clear that the militants were being systematically defeated, the MSM had lost interest in reporting much beyond complaints from the Sadarists that they were being mistreated (no mention made of the background of these folks as vigilantes, rapists, smugglers, rackateers, extortionists, and kidnappers). Go figure. That’s our free press. As an aside, the Long War Journal probably has about as many reporters on the ground in Iraq as each of the 3 major networks (1 ea) – see sidebar link to “Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner”. Support the Long War Journal (plug from a reader thankful for the great reporting).

  • pjh says:

    Clicking on the first link in this story to CJTF-101 returns “You are not authorised to view this resource.” Since it is a press release, I tried to email the webmaster — and was told “You are not authorised to view this resource.” Hey, someone should tell CJTF-101 to fix that!

  • Sam says:

    Taliban “ambushes” of coalition forces have been consistent disasters (for the Taliban) the entire war.
    They’ve done better against Afghan government troops though.

  • Mike says:

    I read the Boston Globe this morning. I must have skipped over this story somehow.

  • Icon says:

    Thanks to all those who elaborated on my question. I recommend the LWJ to everyone who will listen. Outstanding coverage. Obliged. Keep up the great work.

  • mjr007 says:

    Nice analysis, tyrone.
    Listen carefully. That noise you hear is the Taliban running into a buzz saw.


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