ISAF helos engage Haqqani Network fighters on the Pakistani border

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed that its helicopters clashed with the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network near the Pakistani border, but would not confirm the aircraft crossed into Pakistan to conduct attacks.

Ten Haqqani Network fighters fighters were killed during a clash this morning along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a US military official told The Long War Journal, but current reports indicate the helicopters did cross into Pakistan to engage Taliban fighters. The military official said that ISAF is still gathering information on the clash.

The fighting took place near Combat Outpost Narizah, an Afghan base just eight miles from the Pakistani border in Khost province, the official said. Khost is a stronghold of the Haqqani Network, an Afghan Taliban subgroup based in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

The statement played down reports from earlier today that indicated US helicopters killed five insurgents as they fled into Pakistan’s tribal agency of Kurram, which borders Khost. In another report, a Pakistani security official claimed that US helicopters crossed the border and struck a local checkpoint manned by members of “noble tribal families.”

Combat Outpost Narizah was the scene of two major clashes over the weekend that resulted in US helicopters pursuing Haqqani Network fighters into Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. Initial reports indicated that more than 30 Haqqani Network fighters were killed in the two cross-border engagements, but later reports state than between 50 to 60 may have been killed.

Pakistan objects to weekend’s cross-border raids from Afghanistan

ISAF has maintained that it legitimately attacked Taliban forces as part of an existing policy of hot pursuit of fighters.

US forces pursued the Taliban into Pakistan “after following the proper rules of engagement under inherent right of self defense,” Master Sergeant Matthew Summers, an ISAF spokesman, told The Long War Journal on Sept. 26.

But a spokesman at Pakistan’s Foreign Office rejected reports that such an agreement between ISAF and Pakistan exists, and said the incursions are a violation ISAF’s mandate.

“These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,” spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement released by the Foreign Office, according to AFP.

“There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules,” Basit continued. “Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable. In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options.”

Background on agreement on cross-border activities between ISAF and Pakistan

Although the Pakistani Foreign Office denied the existence of any agreement that permits ISAF forces to enter Pakistan while in hot pursuit of Taliban fighters, the details of such an agreement have been known for years. In August 2007, The Associated Press released the text of the agreement.

The agreement between ISAF and Pakistan stipulated the following: US forces must be engaged with the Taliban or al Qaeda as they cross into Pakistan and US forces should not penetrate more than six miles into Pakistani territory. Also, US forces may enter Pakistan if they have identified the location of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahri, or Mullah Omar.

The US has pursued Taliban fighters across the border multiple times. Two of the most high-profile incidents occurred in 2008. The first took place in June 2008, when US troops pursued a Taliban force from Kunar into Pakistan’s tribal agency of Mohmand, and killed 11 fighters. The Pakistani government claimed that the US killed Frontier Corps troops, but the US released video of the incident showing the Taliban being targeted as they fled from Kunar into Mohmand. Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps is known to support the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The second incident took place in Khyber in November 2008, when US forces launched rocket attacks and ground strikes into the Tirah Valley, a known haven for al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Lashkar-e-Islam. Seven people were reported killed and three were wounded in the strikes.

The US also launches covert airstrikes using unmanned Predators and Reapers against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Pakistani government officially protests the covert strikes but quietly approves. Three such strikes have been launched inside Pakistan over the past three days; all have taken place in North Waziristan.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Jim says:

    Interesting how “difficult” it is to access the remote Pak tribal border areas by anyone, even the Pak military; next thing you know the whole world knows all about ISAF crossing the border from Afghanistan with copters.

  • Render says:

    “Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options.”
    By all means, constrain to consider away…

  • Civy says:

    Mainstream media is reporting the intense targeting of N Waziristan and the Haqqani network is an attempt to disrupt an imminent attack on UK, France and Germany.

  • fuzair says:

    IIRC, Musharraf years ago suggested fencing the border (like the Indians have done in Kashmir, minefields and all) but the Afghans had a fit. Anyone here have any details on this?

  • Girish says:

    Thank god for General Petraeus, atlast green shoots for a resolution to is long expensive war. Time the Paks stop playing both sides

  • neonmeat says:

    I am so sick of the way the Pakistan establishment is acting, coalition forces are there fighting for them and dying for them, killing the people who would take over their country and turn it into the biggest mess in the middle east. Don’t get me wrong many Pakistani soldiers have died bravely fighting these same people but the politicians are so two faced, on one side trying to side with ISAF and then at the same time shouting populist statements to the people.
    In my opinion the ISAF should step this type of pursuit up and deny the Haqqani Network as many safe havens across the border as possible.
    “These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandate under which ISAF operates,”

  • Spooky says:

    They can cut off the supply route, among other things. Don’t underestimate the Pakistanis just because they don’t have the same level of military technology as the US. Any overconfidence in this area will (and has before) ensured doing just that.
    It’d be better if we sent people across the border in a not so obvious fashion, because helicopters? The conventionalist Pakistan military can detect those. Spec Ops across the border in ghillie suits…much less likely

  • Charu says:

    @neonmeat, Pakistani politicians have little power. It is well known that their strings are pulled by the Pakistani military leadership. The duplicity and treachery starts with the Generals, and permeates into the rank and file. For a sense of how venal and medieval the Pakistani military is, google Major General Faisal Alavi who was murdered for spilling the beans;

  • Mr T says:

    “”There are no agreed ‘hot pursuit’ rules,” Basit continued. “Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable. In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will be constrained to consider response options.””
    2 can play that game.
    “There are no agreed rules for Pakistan to stop militants from crossing into Afghanistan to kill Americans.” Obama continued. “Any impression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violations are unacceptable. In the absence of corrective measures, ISAF will be constrained to consider response options.”
    Like chasing your murderers back into Pakistan and killing them there if we have to. Got it?

  • Neo says:

    The Pakistani’s aren’t going to cut off the NATO supply route, it’s too lucrative. Plus they are less enthusiastic about the Taliban gaining power, than they are about the US leaving. Having the US leave and at the same time keep sending Pakistan lots of money would be ideal, so far as they are concerned.
    Unless these incidents become more frequent, I don’t see this becoming a major issue. The Pakistani’s will demand that it stop. We will put the matter under long term investigation (the longer the investigation the better), and will restrain ourselves if it becomes a major point of contention. Otherwise, business as usual.

  • kp says:

    Apparently the have given NATO a formal protest and NATO claims self-defense.

    It’s difficult to know how much of this is theatre and how much is for real. It’s clear that NATO with three cross-border attacks (even if some of them were engaging across the border) clears a little less about the niceties. This seems to be all part of the AFG/PAK border strategy now running on both sides of the border.

  • Spooky says:

    They won’t? They have before, the last time we went over the border. And the deal being lucrative depends on whether the people in Islamabad know good economics when they see it…and they don’t. Even if they did, pride and national integrity goes first, considering its their army that runs things.
    Of course, its not all that big of a deal if they shut it down right now anyway, the floods damaged the main north-south road from Karachi to Peshawar, but hey…symbolism right?

  • Render says:

    Spooky’s right.
    They can, have, and likely will close the MSR’s (more then one) again.
    The floods did cause a great deal of damage to the civil road infrastructure. (Bill, I think that might answer a question we had.)
    There are other factors that I’m not going to mention that may take the decision out of the Pakistanis hands altogether.

  • Spooky says:

    To whoever said they wouldn’t shut down the supply route…take a gander at today’s NYT….


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram