Fighting in Uruzgan kills Taliban commander

Following a week of ferocious battles in the central mountain-province of Uruzgan, Coalition forces announced the death of a “known Taliban leader and some of his followers” after launching a deadly air strike on his position August 12. The air raid, apparently a different strike from the deadly August 11 incident in the Khas Uruzgan district that left an estimated eight civilians and 25 insurgents dead, resulted in the death of Mullah Akhtar Mohammed and several of his fighters.

“This operation shows that ISAF can strike against the insurgency leadership who threaten innocent Afghans and attack ISAF forces,” said Brigadier-General Richard Blanchette in a press statement. “[Akhtar Mohammed] commanded large numbers of insurgent fighters and committed atrocities against Afghan Police officers who worked to improve the safety and stability of their country.” The statement also verified that no infrastructure or civilians were injured during the air strike which may indicate Akhtar was killed while traveling in a vehicle.

On Thursday, Afghan police claimed to have killed five Taliban fighters including the group’s commander, Mullah Abdul Wali, during a clash in the volatile Char Chino region of Uruzgan.

The death of both Taliban leaders follows the successful raid against Mullah Bari Ghul, the Taliban “shadow” governor for Uruzgan province, sometime during the first week of August. Australian special forces raided Ghul’s location in the middle of the night and seized the Taliban fugitive without firing a shot. Ghul has been described as “the key facilitator in the provision of equipment, money and foreign fighters to extremist operations and coordinated the actions of individual insurgent cells” in Uruzgan province, according to the Australian Defense Department.

It is unclear if Ghul’s detention provided any clues to that led to the actionable intelligence used to track the movement of Mullah Akhtar Mohammed earlier this week. The death of both commanders also coincides with the deployment of additional French military advisers who arrived in Uruzgan on August 7. The additional French personnel will act as an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) for Uruzgan province and will be tasked with helping train Afghan National Army soldiers alongside Dutch advisers.

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