ISAF beats back assault on eastern Afghan base

Coalition troops defeated a massed assault by the Haqqani Network and allied terror groups on a remote base near the border with Pakistan earlier today. Afghan officials claimed that more than 60 enemy fighters were killed during the attack.

An estimated 60 to 70 fighters from the Haqqani Network and other terror groups launched an attack on Combat Outpost Margah in the Bermel district in Paktika province.

“The insurgents were armed with heavy and light weapons,” the spokesman for Paktika province told the BBC. “In retaliation, ANSF launched their own attack. After a fierce gun battle and air support from NATO, all of the insurgents were killed.”

US officials confirmed the attack but did not provide an estimate of enemy casualties. No US or Afghan forces were killed or wounded during the fighting.

A local Afghan police official claimed that foreign fighters from Pakistan, Caucasus, Uzbekistan, and Arab countries were involved in the attack.

‘We know for sure that there are foreign fighters among those killed because we listened to their radio chatter, there were Arabic, Chechen, Uzbek and Urdu speakers,” the official told the BBC. He also said the assault was “carried out by the Haqqani Network to take revenge for several recent operations, which resulted in the killing and capture of their commanders and fighters.”

Groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the recently emerged Caucasus Mujahideen in Khorasan are known to operate in the Khost, Paktia, and Paktika area. Arab al Qaeda fighters are also known to have been killed in Bermel. In June 2011, Mahmoud Hamdan Nizal, a Jordanian al Qaeda operative whose nom de guerre was Abu Dher al Urduni, was killed while launching rockets and mortars against Combat Outpost Margah.

The Haqqani Network and allied groups have carried out four major assaults against US outposts in Bermel since 2008. In November 2008, US forces killed 16 enemy fighters as they assaulted Combat Outpost Margah.

In the fall of 2010, the Haqqani Network launched two major massed suicide assaults on COP Margah over the span of two months. On Sept. 2, US forces killed 20 Haqqani Network fighters. And on Oct. 31, US forces killed 78 Haqqani Network and foreign fighters while repelling a massive attack. The Haqqani Network was backed by fighters from al Qaeda as well as the Taliban.

More recently, on March 28, 2011, a three-man suicide assault team attacked a compound owned by the Zahir road construction company in Bermel district. The suicide team first killed a security guard at the main gate, then drove a truck packed with explosives into the company’s compound. In the massive blast, 20 road workers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.

Al Qaeda and allied groups maintain a presence in Paktika province, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal. US military press releases document the presence of al Qaeda and “foreign fighter” cells in the districts of Wor Mamay, Yahya Khel, Yosuf Khel, Zadran, and Ziruk; or five of Paktika’s 18 districts. The US military uses the term “foreign fighters” to describe al Qaeda and allied terror groups from outside of Afghanistan.

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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20 Comments

  • Graham says:

    Music to my ears.

  • Max says:

    Hey, keep up those “massed attacks” boys, your failure rate is spectacular!!

  • donowen says:

    Like alot of old men M. Haqqani is stuck in the 1980’s, assuming what happened to the USSR will occur again. He is dead wrong and indeed will pay for that mistake with his life, and at least the lives of his adult children. When American troops leave our technology will not. Robotics and information processing technology has fundamentally changed the ability kill simultaneously from the top down and the bottom up. They can not make one mistake- we have hundreds of shots. We need to get lucky only once to take out the present senior leadership. The tremendous kill rates of Haqqani troops and leaders when they expose themselves in combat or a car going somewhere is explained away by the explanation it will dramatically drop when we leave. When it doesn’t, they face extermination or a peace agreement.

  • wallbangr says:

    Nicely done. I understand why they keep trying because if they are ever fortunate enough to overrun a COP, it would be a major coup. But they keep running into the buzz saw. Granted, the buzz saw is going to lose most of its teeth once we withdraw, but one sometimes wonders why they send so much cannon fodder off to martyrdom rather than simply wait us out.

  • jayc says:

    “…all of the insurgents were killed.”
    Thats pretty telling. Usually we hear ambiguous statements to prevent another “body count” announcement like we heard in Vietnam. Granted, it was an Afghan making a statement and not an American, but it sounds like Sirajuddin and company got hammered pretty hard. The Associated Press reported that they haven’t heard from the Taliban spokesman. Where are you, Zabiullah?

  • mike merlo says:

    Very entertaining. Try as they might Haqqani’s forces can’t seem to have ‘their’ Alamo moment. No matter look for them to take out their angst on a military they can manhandle Pakistan’s.

  • Victor says:

    Massed infantry assault on a fortified position? Seems like the hajis might begin to question their leaders’ competence at some point.

  • Eddie D. says:

    Haqqani our soldiers are in a kill or capture mode, so, make it easy on yourselves. LOL,you idiot brainwashed fools.lolllllllll

  • Witch Doctor says:

    The web page for AQ can be read here, and of course no mention of the whooping they received. They never do.
    //shahamat-english.com/
    Jalaluddin is 61 years old and does not understand modern (21st century) warfare. I am more than happy to have all of his people achieve martyrdom, after all they deserve it. They will never have the ability to hide from our resources both human and silicon based unless they go deep into the caves.

  • sanman says:

    Maybe this is the new “cooperation” that Pakistan promised to give in order to “contain” the Haqqanis.
    Just give the Haqqanis a load of bad intel, and let them go running headlong into the fire.
    The Pakistanis already said they can’t afford to fight the Haqqanis directly. So maybe instead they can help direct them into bad firefights, in order to keep their numbers down.

  • Vyom says:

    Nice shooting!!!!!!!
    This types of attacks should be encouraged. It’s a lot better then IED. It seems now if US should wait for Haqqanis to do such things rather then risking themselves.

  • NUS says:

    The history repeats itself not always!
    Jalaluddin Haqqani, the father of current leader of HN, Serajuddin, overrun Khost city on April 11, 1991. (See “Siege of Khost”: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Khost ). This time, Serajuddin Haqqani failed to make the history repeat itself after failing to overrun a single COP in Paktika on Nov. 9, 2011. There are some similarities and differences between those two incidents.
    Similarities: Haqqani network was involved in both attacks; both of the targeted locations bordered with Pakistan; both groups were backed or trained by ISI; foreign fighters were involved in both attacks.
    Differences: Siege of Khost lasted four years; attack on COP Murgah lasted only few hours. The West was backing up Mujahidin during Siege of Khost; only ISI might have backed up the COP assault. The road access was cut off and the air was secured by Stinger SAM’s in Khost siege; none is true in COP case. Many other warring factions were involved in Khost siege besides Haqqani group; HN was the only group to plan the COP assault. Two different communication systems (Russian vs. Western) were used during khost siege; HN was using the same communication systems (cell phones, satellite phones, and walkie-talkies) in COP assault as ISAF and Afghans do.
    The differences are far more serious than the similarities. As long as Taliban do not have all the might and support that Mujahidin had in 80’s, they will never be able to make the history be repeated. They never were able to find enough support while they were in power. Today, overrunning a COP, a FOB, or a city is an impossible dream for Taliban in exile.

  • Charles says:

    but one sometimes wonders why they send so much cannon fodder off to martyrdom rather than simply wait us out.
    ………….
    These men are fighters. They’re being killed in their R&R & training areas by drones. This is no fun. There is no rest. And what the hell good is training for if you don’t go fight or just do something! Inactivity in the face of the killer drones –drives them mad. They go to the front just to get some rest. If its eternal rest so be it. Better than being driven mad by drones.
    Those COPS look like good a idea. They ought to put a couple more there within easy reach of assorted bad guy troops on the pakistani side of the border border.

  • Ed says:

    I wonder how many of these insurgents had been killed before they realized this attack had gone horribly wrong?

  • ED says:

    THEY TRY THESE MASS ATTACKS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR EVERY YEAR. I THINK IT IS SO THEY DO NOT HAVE TO FEED AND HOUSE THE FAITHFUL THROUGH THE WINTER.

  • Witch Doctor says:

    To the readers of LWJ, I want to retract the statement I made about the website in my previous post. The website is for the Taliban in Afghanistan and not AQ. Please forgive me for having made the mistake.
    I also wanted to thank NUS for a great post which contrasts the city of Khost being taken over by Jalaluddin and the failed attack on COP Murgah.

  • gwb says:

    It is no wonder to me as to why these “older” leaders are willing to subject their soldiers to such a slaughter, as they are never involved in the actual fighting themselves. They have a zealous army that is willing to sacrifice itself for what is perceived a potential world caliphate.

  • Mr T says:

    Sounds like 70 was not enough. What if they massed 370? They seem to be good at massing large numbers without detection. They certainly have attacked with 300 before and I seen reports of 100 men on motorbikes cruising around. They also massed on Pakistani Frontier outposts and somewhat succeded in taking them.
    Kudos to the brave men and women defending against these murderous psyhcos.

  • jim2 says:

    As another poster suggested, this could be a “use it or lose it” situation for the bad guys.
    Frustration at not being able to strike back at drones and the coming winter’s logistic challenges may well be forcing them to act now.

  • madashell59 says:

    For the comments regarding why the leaders send the soldiers to such perilous tasks. Because they believe in martyrdom and also that since these soldiers are brothers, husbands, sons of someone they can hopefully recruit some more suckers to fight their war.

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