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.”
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