Last week, Afghan news outlets reported that ISAF aircraft killed a Taliban commander, two “Iranian citizens,” and several fighters in an airstrike in the Pusht Rod district in Farah province on the Iranian border. The raid in Farah was confirmed by Farah’s provincial spokesman, but ISAF did not include the strike in its operational reporting.
The Taliban commander was identified as Mullah Qadir, who, according to Khaama Press, “is accused of the deadly attacks which took place in Farah province recently.” That very likely is a reference to the April 3 suicide assault on a courthouse in Farah City, where upwards of 44 people were killed.
Today, ISAF finally confirmed to The Long War Journal that “there was an operation conducted in Farah province on May 1st.”
According to ISAF, “the operation was intended to prevent an imminent threat,” but “for operational security reasons we cannot discuss the specific details of this operation at this time.”
TOLOnews reported that “the insurgents were targeted while they wanted to explode a truck full of explosives in Bala Bolak district of Farah province.”
ISAF contacted The Long War Journal on May 11 (one day after report post was published) and provided the following information on the operation:
On May 1st, Afghan intelligence officials received reports that a complex attack was imminent in Farah Province. A truck with more than 3000 kg of explosives was being prepared for movement to a target area densely populated with civilians. As a frame of reference, the truck bomb used in the Oklahoma City terrorist attack had just over 2,200 kg of explosives – and that detonation killed nearly 200 people, injured more than 600, and damaged more than 300 buildings within a sixteen-block radius. Once the Taliban began moving the truck to its intended target, it was destroyed with a precision strike. Eight insurgents were killed, including two members of the cell that are also thought to have attacked the Farah courthouse complex in early April.
The identities of the Iranians were not disclosed, and it is unclear if they were Iranian foreign fighters linked to al Qaeda and/or the Taliban, or if they were members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force. Iranians, along with “Arabs,” were reported to have been killed in an ISAF airstrike on April 1.
Iran, through Qods Force’s Ansar Corps, is known to sponsor al Qaeda and Taliban groups in western and southern Afghanistan [see LWJ reports, Iranian Qods Force commanders linked to Taliban: US Treasury, and Treasury targets Iran’s ‘secret deal’ with al Qaeda]. ISAF officials have also directly linked Qods Force to several of the Taliban commanders.
ISAF has targeted Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in at least 14 raids in western Afghanistan between June 2009 and February 2011, according to Coalition press releases compiled by The Long War Journal. ISAF inexplicably stopped reporting on raids against Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in early February 2011; LWJ‘s queries to ISAF on this subject have gone unanswered [see LWJ report, Taliban suicide assault team kills 36 Afghans in western city].
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