The US military now claims that more than 100 enemy fighters were killed during the Oct. 3 assault on two joint Afghan and US outposts in Nuristan province. The military also backed away from its previous statement that a “Nuristani tribal militia” conducted the attack and said the attack was a collaborative effort by multiple extremist groups.
Several days ago, more than 300 enemy fighters launched the attack on the two remote outposts in the district of Kamdish, just 10 miles from the Pakistani border, after organizing at a nearby mosque and a village.
The US military is now claiming that more than one-third of the assault force was killed while US and Afghan forces repelled the attack. Initially, the US had said “several” fighters were killed, but various press accounts put the number at between 20 to 50 fighters killed.
“A more detailed battlefield assessment following the Oct. 3 attack in Nuristan has determined that enemy forces suffered more than 100 dead during the well-coordinated defense — significantly higher losses than originally thought,” the US military said in a press release.
The attack, which resulted in eight US soldiers and upwards of seven Afghan police killed, and the capture of a district police chief and 13 policemen, was the largest loss of US troops in a single battle since last year’s battle in Wanat, also in Nuristan.
Today’s disclosure of enemy casualties marks a departure from a recent policy by the US military and the International Security Assistance Force, which had maintained that reporting on the number of enemy killed during combat was counterproductive and the command would no longer provide estimates to the media or in press releases.
Attack was not launched by a ‘Nuristani tribal militia’
The US military has also backtracked from its initial statement that the assault was carried out by a “Nuristani tribal militia” and that “the sources of the conflict in the area involve complex tribal, religious and economic dynamics.”
“Additionally, ISAF now believes that while the attack was conducted by local anti-Afghan forces, … local Taliban and elements of Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin may have helped facilitate the attack,” the US military stated in a press release today.
US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on Oct. 4 that the attack was carried out by local Taliban fighters under the command of Nuristan shadow governor Dost Mohammed and that the strike force was aided by al Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army, or the Lashkar al Zil. Elements of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin man units within the Shadow Army.
For more information on the battle in Kamdish, see: “US, Afghan troops beat back bold enemy assault in eastern Afghanistan.”
For more information on al Qaeda’s Shadow Army, see: “Al Qaeda’s paramilitary ‘Shadow Army.'”
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