US attack helicopters have killed more than 30 Haqqani Network fighters inside Pakistan while repelling a cross-border attack.
US forces struck at the Haqqani Network fighters on Friday after they attacked Combat Outpost Narizah, an Afghan base just eight miles from the Pakistani border in the district of Tani in Khost province.
The Haqqani Network fighters were hit in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, which is just across the Pakistani border.
“An air weapons team in the area observed the enemy fire, and following International Security Assistance Force rules of engagement, crossed into the area of enemy fire,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. “The ISAF aircraft then engaged, killing more than 30 insurgents.”
ISAF confirmed that the helicopters struck at the Haqqani Network fighters in Pakistan. The attack helicopters launched their attack “after following the proper rules of engagement under inherent right of self defense,” Master Sergeant Matthew Summers, a public affairs official, told The Long War Journal.
On Saturday, ISAF launched a second attack against the Haqqani Network, after taking fire in the border area. “Several additional insurgents” were killed in that attack.
No civilians have been reported killed or injured in either of the attacks.
The assault on Combat Outpost Narizah is the sixth against outposts in eastern Afghanistan since the end of August. [For more information on recent Haqqani Network attacks on US and Afghan bases, see LWJ report, US, Afghan forces defeat Haqqani Network suicide assault on FOB Gardez.]
The Haqqani Network is based in the Miramshah region in North Waziristan, and has close ties to al Qaeda and other Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups. The Pakistani government refuses to deal with the Haqqani Network, and has resisted US pressure to carry out an operation to defeat the group. [For more information on the Haqqani Network, its links to al Qaeda, and ISAF operations targeting its leadership, see LWJ report, US troops defeat Haqqani Network assault on base in Khost.]
ISAF forces are permitted to pursue Taliban forces across the border if they are engaged in fighting or are under attack. The US and Pakistan have agreed to a set of rules for hot pursuit: US forces must be engaged with the Taliban or al Qaeda as they cross into Pakistan; US forces should not penetrate more than six miles into Pakistani territory; and US forces may enter Pakistan if they have identified the location of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahri, or Mullah Omar. Pakistan has denied that the agreement exists, and the US military will not comment.
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.