Ten French soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded in a major clash with the Taliban in Kabul province, just 35 miles from the capital.
The battled began late on Aug. 18 in a pass just west of the town of Surobi in eastern Kabul province. The joint French and Afghan force was ambushed “during a joint reconnaissance mission with the Afghan national army,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“The initial patrol was reinforced with quick reaction forces, close air support, and mobile medical teams,” the International Security Assistance Force reported in a press release. “During the engagement a large number of insurgents were killed.” Afghan defense ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 13 rebels, including a Pakistani national, were killed in the fighting, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
An Afghan National polcie truck damaged by a rocket-propelled grenade strike in Surobi is hauled away from the battlefield. Surobi. Photo by Amy Sun / FRI.
The attack occurred in a region often patrolled by French and Afghan forces, said Tim Lynch, the Vice president of Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan (VSSA), a security contracting company that operates in the region.
The region contains little cover and rolling hills ideal for an ambush, Lynch said. “There have been specific threats for the last few weeks against Surobi dam,” said Lynch. Attacks have increased in this region over the past month.
As the joint French and Afghan force was battling with extremists east of Surobi, Italian soldiers and Afghan police came under fire while blocking the highway in the area. The Taliban damaged three Afghan National Police truck in a rocket-propelled grenade strike, Lynch said, but there are no reports of casualties at this time.
A Taliban commander known as Ghazni is known to be operating in the eastern Kabul region as well as in northern Langman province, Lynch said. The Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin, or HIG, is also known to operating in the region. HIG is commanded by Gulbaddin Hekmatyer, an ally of Osama bin laden and the Taliban.
The battles in the Surobi region occurred as threats of Taliban attacks were high in Kabul province. The Taliban sought to disrupt the Afghan Independence Day celebrations. Afghan security forces locked down the province and planned events were canceled or moved to a different location. A suicide bomber killed 10 Afghans in an attack outside a US base in Khost province yesterday.
Today’s attacks come as the Taliban and allied terror movement have increased the attacks on the roadways in an around Kabul province. Wardak province, which borders Kabul to the south, has seen a significant uptick in Taliban attacks along Highway 1, the main artery to the southern region of Afghanistan.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.