The al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network lost more than 30 fighters and a commander during the Aug. 28 attack on two US forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan.
The International Security Assistance Force said that US and Afghan troops “killed more than 30 Haqqani Network insurgents” during the early-morning assault on Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman. Thirteen of of those killed were wearing suicide vests, ISAF stated. A US intelligence official told The Long War Journal that 35 Haqqani Network fighters were killed during the clashes. ISAF had initially estimated that 21 Haqqani Network fighters and a senior facilitator named Mudasir were killed during and immediately after the assault.
After the fighting, Afghan and Coalition forces “capitalized on intelligence tips” and captured a Haqqani Network commander who was “involved in planning the attacks.” Two of the commander’s associates were also detained during the raid, which took place near Bakhtanah in Khost’s Sabari district.
Last night, another Haqqani Network commander involved in the attack was detained along with several of his fighters during a raid near Khodizali in Khost’s Terayzai district.
A US intelligence official described the Haqqani Network attack in Khost over the weekend and other recent assaults at Kandahar Airfield, Bagram Airbase, and Jalalabad Airfield as futile efforts that have served as a meat grinder for Taliban foot soldiers.
“These sorts of FOB [forward operating base] attacks have become little more than exercises in target practice here,” the official said. “They show up, we watch them; we kill them.”
In the attacks on Forward Operating Bases Salerno and Chapman, two of the Haqqani Network fighters were observed while cutting through the wire, and were killed once a security team was dispatched. Only four US soldiers were wounded during the fighting at both bases, and all have since returned to duty.
Brigadier General Josef Blotz, the senior ISAF spokesman, described the frontal assaults on US forward operating bases as “ill-conceived” attempts that serve only to endanger those executing the attacks.
“The insurgents’ attempts to attack ISAF or Afghan government facilities were defeated again,” said Blotz said. “The insurgent leadership who direct these ill-conceived attacks far from the actual battlefield knows their low-level fighters have no chance of success against these targets.”
US maintains pressure on the Haqqani Network
US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal that they believe the Haqqani Network has been under pressure due to the high tempo of operations against the group’s leaders and facilitators. These officials have detected strains between the group’s leadership and its lower-level fighters.
Over the past several months, Afghan and Coalition special operations forces have been launching nightly raids in the Haqqani Network strongholds of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, and have killed and captured dozens of leaders and facilitators, along with scores of fighters.
Several top commanders were captured over the past few days. A recent raid in Khost on Aug. 26 netted an important senior Haqqani Network commander who “coordinates and conducts attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, including suicide bombings” and who also traffics weapons and supplies to fighters in the region. The commander and several of his fighters were captured after intelligence indicated that “the group was gathering for an upcoming complex attack consisting of suicide bombers and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in the area.”
The commander, who was not named, has links to the highest levels of the Haqqani Network. A US intelligence official who tracks the Haqqani Network said the commander has been in direct contact with both Jan Baz Zadran and Badruddin Haqqani. Zadran, a top aide to Siraj Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani Network, is the group’s logistical and financial coordinator, and also acquires weapons and ammunition for the network. Badruddin is one of Siraj’s brothers and serves as a senior military commander.
In another operation, Afghan and Coalition forces killed a commander known as Naman and seven of his fighters during a raid on Aug. 28 near Kowti Sheyl in Paktia’s Zurmat district. The commander was responsible for “coordinating and conducting indirect fire and direct fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces” and also “also coordinated the movement of improvised explosive devices, ammunition, supplies and fighters.”
For more information on the Haqqani Network and its connections to al Qaeda, see LWJ report, US, Afghan troops beat back Haqqani Network assault on two bases in Khost.
• ANSF, ISAF Defeat Another Haqqani Attack, ISAF press release
• US, Afghan troops beat back Haqqani Network assault on two bases in Khost, The Long War Journal
• Forces capture Haqqani Network commander involved in attacks, ISAF press release
• Force captures more insurgents linked to coalition base attacks, ISAF press release
• Capture of Haqqani senior commander in Khost confirmed, ISAF press release
• Afghan, coalition forces conduct operations in Paktia, ISAF press release