US, Afghan troops beat back Taliban assault on outpost in the east


Map of Afghanistan’s provinces. Click map to view larger image.

US and Afghan troops repelled a Taliban assault on a base in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least six fighters, in the latest Taliban attempt to overrun a US outpost.

A Taliban force, whose size has yet to be determined, opened fire on Forward Operating Base Fenty in the Behsud district in Nangarhar, which is at the Jalalabad city airport, an ISAF spokesman told The Long War Journal. The Taliban opened fire with small arms from “insurgent fighting positions,” the International Security Assistance Force said in a press release on the incident. A combined US and Afghan quick reaction force counterattacked the Taliban after identifying the enemy positions, and broke up the attack.

US troops said that six enemy fighters were killed during the counterattack. The combined force “recovered two suicide vests, multiple weapons and grenades near the dead insurgents.” No US or Afghan casualties were reported.

The Taliban claimed the attack in a statement released on its website, Voice of Jihad, and said it was carried out by “14 martyr-seeking Mujahideen equipped with heavy and small arms and explosives vests.” According to the Taliban, “37 US invaders were killed and 35 Afghan cowardly soldiers were killed or wounded during the face-to-face fighting and martyrdom operations, while 7 of the enemy trained dogs were killed.” Also, “9 US attack helicopters and 2 unmanned aerial vehicles” were destroyed. The Taliban also claimed 11 of its fighters were killed and three more escaped.

The Taliban wildly inflate or manufacture ISAF and Afghan casualties in the numerous press releases issued daily, claiming that scores of Coalition and Afghan soldiers and dozens of “tanks” are destroyed each day.

The use of a suicide vest indicates that al Qaeda or a Pakistan-based jihadist group was involved in the attack. Al Qaeda and Pakistani terror groups have carried out joint operations against US and Afghan forces in the east in the past.

Al Qaeda and the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba maintain a strong presence in Nangarhar province, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Achin, Bati Kowt, Behsud, Chaparhar, Dara Noor, Deh Bala, Jalalabad, Khogyani, Sherzad, Shinwar, or 10 of Nangarhar’s 22 districts.

Today’s assault in Behsud district is the latest Taliban attempt to overrun a US outpost in the east. The last such attack took place on Oct. 30 at Combat Outpost Margah in Paktika province. US forces routed the Haqqani Network and al Qaeda fighters who carried out the attack, killing more than 80 fighters.

Taliban leadership in the east

The Peshawar Regional Military Shura, one of the Afghan Taliban’s four major commands, directs activities in the eastern Afghan provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, Nuristan, and Kunar. Abdul Latif Mansur is thought to currently lead the Taliban’s Peshawar shura. It was led by Maulvi Abdul Kabir before his detention in Pakistan in February 2010. Media reports claimed that Kabir was in negotiations with the Afghan government, but Kabir released a statement on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s website, denouncing any talks.

A Taliban group known as the Tora Bora Military Front operates in Nangarhar and has been behind a series of deadly attacks in the province. The Tora Bora Military Front is led by Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the son of Maulvi Mohammed Yunis Khalis, who was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after al Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996. Pakistan detained Mujahid in Peshawar in June 2009.

Nangarhar is a strategic province for both the Taliban and the Coalition. The province borders the Pakistani tribal agency of Khyber. The majority of NATO’s supplies pass through Khyber and Nangarhar before reaching Kabul and points beyond.

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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  • Avid Reader says:

    Before I add my comment let me thank you for providing such detailed reports of the Afghan war.
    Google Earth was unable to locate the Behsud district in Nangarhar. Wikipedia also has no such district in Nangarhar. Perhaps it is Bihsud district, formerly Jalalabad?

  • Chris says:

    @ Bill
    In a german newspaper is a report about an attack on the airport of “Dschalalabad”.

    Is this an additional event or are they confusing this issue?

  • Blue Star Mom says:

    As a Mom with a kid down range I can not tell you how much your excellent coverage means to me! My heartfelt thanks!

  • kp says:

    @Avid Reader: All the names in AfPak or in their original language (Pashto and Urdu most of the time but others too) and are transliterated into English. The vowels and some unvoiced constants don’t quite match up to English ones. There are no canonical English spellings for these locations (though I presume the CIA and US Military have one they prefer and a glossary of all the possible spellings or perhaps they rely on UTM coords for operation purposes or even codenames (typical say in the “renaming” of streets in foreign locations for ease of verbal discussion). Bill uses the ones that appear in the reports.

    For an example look at Miramshah or is it Miram Shah or Miran Shah? I suspect there are others for this one (large) town.

    The Taliban after-action numbers are literally “unbelievable”. I thought the phrase “… while 7 of the enemy trained dogs were killed” was interesting. Are these metaphorical dogs or actual canines. Do we have combat canines in Afghanistan? They seem to bother the Talibans if they call them out (and before the helicopters and UAVs “downed” too).

  • blert says:

    We are using the dogs of war — however since they don’t give press interviews press write-ups are minimal.
    And, yes, the opfor HATES them like no other.
    First, Mo hated dogs and denounces them in the koran.
    Second, our war dogs wear camo and pack the latest in listening, and smelling devices.
    This makes it quite impossible for opfors to creep up on the ISAF.
    Afghan terrain and weather make for clear skies. When the moon is out war dogs can easily see the opfors quite easily.
    And, finally, like drones, they don’t tally in the casualties list. So they’re no help for Talib media operations.

  • t75rsj1 says:

    The insurgents do not even need their own propagandists. The following AP report of the same incident clearly is worded to support the insurgents. Unfortunately this type of reporting is what most Americans hear about – and they are not familar with the excellent balanced reporting done here at AP = Al-Queda Propaganda. Al-Queda sends in 6 flunkie teenagers who get decided repelled by our outstanding troops, and the AP characterizes the story as a major military defeat by an all powerful enemy. This is shameful reporting by AP.
    Insurgents attack NATO base in eastern Afghanistan
    By RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press Rahim Faiez, Associated Press – 16 mins ago
    KABUL, Afghanistan – Insurgents wearing suicide vests Saturday stormed a major NATO base in eastern Afghanistan, with six of them dying in a hail of gunfire before they could penetrate the defenses. Ten people including three children died in a separate bombing in the north.
    The attacks – in Jalalabad in the east and Kunduz province in the north – show the insurgents’ fighting spirit has not been broken despite a surge of U.S. troops and firepower.
    They also demonstrate the guerrillas are capable of striking outside their traditional southern strongholds of Kandahar and Helmand provinces that are the focus of the U.S. surge.

  • TLA says:

    @kp. Thank you for your explanation of the spelling of the Pashtu and Urdu names.
    From my own perspective I spend my post-Army time analysing historical battles and cultural events. Try looking up where Julius Caesar got the world druidum from. Transliteration? *sighs*

  • James says:

    t75rsj1, great analysis you’ve done there.
    Do a google search of this reporter RAHIM FAIEZ and any one open minded can plainly see the slant/bias of some of these AP reporters.

  • pontiff alex says:

    Why don’t we collect up every pitbull in the country, and unleash them en mass on the border regions? I jest, but War Dogs are great savers of lives in combat zone. In the great documentary “Shakey’s Hill”, one company was repeatedly forewarned of the VC/NVA up the trail by a stray they had adopted. In his, and their honor (B 5/7 Ist Cav)in believe it was), my next dog will be named “Lifesaver” the same name they bestowed upon him. There is also a great website called == KUDOS to LWJ for it’s timely and honest reporting. Body counts never tell the true story anyway.


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