US repels Taliban attack on the Pakistani border

Map of Paktika province. Click to view.

The US military and Afghan National Army fought yet another major engagement in eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan. An estimated 33 Taliban were killed in a battle in the Spera district in Khost province.

The battle began after the Taliban launched a complex attack on a US outpost in the Spera district, right along the Pakistani border. The Taliban followed up a rocket attack with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. US forces beat back the attack with “mortar, artillery fire and close air support,” the International Security Assistance Force reported in a press release.

The Taliban fighters “crossed into Pakistan.” The US military said the Pakistani border guards launched an artillery strike at the Taliban forces, and estimated 33 Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting. No US or Afghan forces were killed in the engagements.

The Taliban have launched a series of attacks against district centers and Afghan and Coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan. Paktika, Paktia, and Khost provinces have seen an increase in attacks over the past two weeks. The Taliban are attempting to destabilize the eastern region and overrun Afghan government centers. Many of the attacks have originated from Pakistan.

Twenty-two Taliban were killed after Afghan police repelled attacks on two district centers in Paktika province and one in Paktia province on the night of June 24. Earlier that same day, a large Taliban force made up of Afghan, Arab, and Chechen fighters attacked a district center in Paktia. Afghan and US forces killed 16 Taliban during the attack.

US and Afghan forces killed 55 Taliban and wounded another 25 during a massed attack on a patrol in neighboring Paktika province on June 20.

Two large-scale rocket and mortar attacks were launched from Pakistani soil during the same timeframe. On June 27, a Taliban rocket team fired at a US outpost in Paktika province. The Taliban also fired rockets at a US base in Paktika on June 21. One Afghan woman and three children were killed in the attack. US forces launched artillery at Taliban positions inside Pakistan after both attacks.

The three provinces border Taliban-controlled tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan in Pakistan. The Taliban, led by Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan and the Haqqani family in North Waziristan, use the tribal agencies as bases to attack US and Afghan forces.

US forces have singled out the Haqqanis as a major threat in eastern Afghanistan. Siraj Haqqani is one of the most wanted men in the region because of his close links with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Taliban attacks in eastern Afghanistan have increased by 40 percent since last year, Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, said during a briefing on June 24. While the attacks are “not really effective in lethality” they are “increasingly more complex.”

The strikes are originating in Pakistan, Schloesser said, noting that the “enemy’s taking refuge and operating with what I will call some freedom of movement in the border region, and they’re using this sanctuary to reconstitute, to plan and to launch attacks into Afghanistan.”

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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  • Thanos says:

    Excellent to see some cooperation with our side in some areas as opposed to the other. With the peace talks in shambles apurpose from Baitullah’s doings I would hope to see more of this in the future, but would not count on it.

  • Solomon2 says:

    Something is wrong here. The Taliban has mobilized up to two thousand men for attacks on Pakistani troops, correct? Why, when it engages coalition forces, is the number of men involved much smaller?

  • Alex says:

    This is just speculation, but my guess is that the Taliban has never won a stand-up fight against the US or NATO forces. They have at times won battles against Pakistani paramilitary. Probably the ones shooting at the US or NATO are some of the more foolish ones.

  • Libertarian says:

    One possible interpretation, Solomon2, is that if 2,000 Taliban attack US/NATO troops the Taliban would suffer 1,000 casualties whereas if 2,000 Taliban attack the Pakistani para-military the casualties and retreats would all be on the Pakistani side; maybe it would be different if the regular Pakistani troops were engaged……;
    Further, it is politically more valuable for the Taliban to kill one American/NATO soldier than a hundred Pakistani para-military soldiers even at cost of dozens of Taliban lives

  • cjr says:

    The issue is surprise.
    2000 taliban staging for an attacked would easily be spotted before they had a chance to launch an attack. Then NATO could attack by air or reenforce the area, etc. Only in smaller groups are they stealthy enough to move around undetected and hence have a chance at a surprise attack.

  • cjr says:

    …. on the Pakistani side
    Pakistani military is poor. They dont have the recon or air to ground attack assets that NATO has. So it is less dangerous for the Taliban to operate in larger group, and easier to achiieve surprise even while doing so.

  • My2cents says:

    The area has a long history of resisting ANY outsiders. Most of the 2000 are probably just local boys defending their turf against the Pakistan military. They probably also are not willing to spend more than a couple days away from their homes because they are mostly farmers. So most of them will never go as far as the border before they turn back.

  • Dr. Irshad says:

    Alex the Taliban can never win against a military. It is clear from their failure to dislodge the untrained Turi Tribe from Parachinar, which they tried with their full force to capture but despite 17 months of fight they couldnot gain a single inch of the land nor could they win in a straight fight.
    the defeated paramilitary working in Waziristan composed of the same poppulation that hit hard against Taliban in Parachinar. Thus the military defeats were purely political.

  • David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/02/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    If the US had the intel on where the Haqqani’s will be, or are holed up, smash them with an airstrike. As long as these people have a base of operations, this will continue. The decision to hit the militants where they live will have to be made sooner rather than later. Some NATO allies have been doing more than thier share, while others do no fighting at all. There are 30+camps running in Waziristan, and the P-stanis give us the song and dance about “sovereignty”…thats laughable…


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