Afghan forces, backed by Coalition troops, have killed more than 130 Taliban fighters during an operation in the northern province of Kunduz. Eight Taliban commanders were among those killed while the operation “disrupted the insurgent shadow governor in Kunduz province.”
The operation took place in the district of Chahara Dara, one of several districts contested by or under the control of the Taliban.
More than 700 Afghan security forces backed by 50 NATO soldiers carried out the five-day-long operation that cleared the Taliban from a number of villages, the US military reported in a press release. The provincial governor said 133 Taliban fighters were killed during the operation.
Over the past two years, the situation in Kunduz province has rapidly deteriorated, and Kunduz has become a Taliban hot spot in the once-quiet Afghan North.
Attacks in Kunduz have spiked over the past three months as the Taliban have tried to disrupt NATO’s new supply line from Tajikistan to the north. NATO sought the new supply route after the Taliban began to effectively interdict supply columns passing through Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency-infested Northwest Frontier Province.
The Taliban, backed by Central Asian fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and its offshoot Islamic Jihad Group, have established a safe haven in the Afghan North. Of the seven districts in Kunduz province, only two are considered to be under government control; the rest of the districts – Chahara Dara, Dashti Archi, Ali Abab, Khan Abad, and Iman Sahib – are considered contested or under Taliban control, according to a map produced by Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry. Two districts in neighboring Baghlan province – Baghlan-i-Jadid and Burka – are under the control of the Taliban [see LWJ report, “Afghan forces and Taliban clash in Kunduz”, and Threat Matrix report, “Afghanistan’s wild-wild north”].
Afghan forces, backed by German forces in the North, have continued to fight it out with the Taliban despite a series of operations launched in the spring and summer to drive out the Taliban.
The Taliban have conducted assaults against police checkpoints, killed senior political and military leaders, and kidnapped civilians who were sending their daughters to school. The Taliban and the IMU and IJU are attempting to wage a suicide bombing campaign in Kunduz and Baghlan. Several suicide bombers have been killed by police or died from the premature detonation of their explosives.
Earlier this fall, Kunduz was the scene of a controversial airstrike on two Taliban-hijacked fuel tankers. Sixty-nine Taliban fighters and 30 civilians were killed after a German commander called in US F-15s to strike the tankers, which were stuck in a river bed. The German commander feared the tankers would be used in a suicide attack against their base nearby.
Unlike airstrikes in other areas, the attacks drew little controversy inside Afghanistan.
“If we do three more operations like was done the other night, stability will come to Kunduz,” Ahmadullah Wardak, the head of a local council, told General Stanley McChrystal when the general attempted to apologize for the strike.
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