Thursday, January 5, 2012

Apache kills senior Taliban commander

From the MoD:

Apache strikes senior Taliban commander

A Military Operations news article

5 Jan 12

A senior Taliban commander has been killed by an Apache helicopter strike during an operation conducted by British and Afghan soldiers to disrupt activity in an insurgent 'safe haven' in Helmand province.

Hellfire strike on insurgent compound

A Hellfire missile from a British Army Apache helicopter strikes an insurgent firing position
[Picture: Sergeant Wes Calder, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]

Soldiers from D Company, 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 RIFLES), and their partners from the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have been taking the fight to the insurgents in the south of the Nahr-e Saraj district for the last few weeks.

In the past two months, the combined forces have pushed the insurgency out of the Babaji area of the district, helping the Afghan police to build new checkpoints and cut off routes used by insurgents to infiltrate the area, and increase security.

Now the British soldiers and the ANSF have handed over responsibility for security for Babaji to Afghan police and are turning their attention to the Kopak region in the north of their area of operations - an insurgent 'safe haven'.

In Operation KAPCHA SHKAR KAWEL, or 'Cobra Hunt', more than 40 Riflemen and members of the ANSF set out to disrupt the insurgency and gather intelligence on Taliban leaders in the area....

Read the rest here.

Just to confuse the issue, it seems that our troops on the ground didn't get the memo that the Taliban are the good guys these days. First we saw the American Rules of Engagement change to what some called 'Catch and release' the terrorists. Now, we have word that secret talks have been going on for over a year with the Taliban. There's more:

Taliban leaders held at Guantánamo Bay to be released in peace talks deal

US agrees in principle to releasing top officials from Afghanistan insurgent group in exchange for starting process of negotiations

Julian Borger, and Jon Boone in Kabul

The Guardian, Tue 3 Jan 2012

The US has agreed in principle to release high-ranking Taliban officials from Guantánamo Bay in return for the Afghan insurgents' agreement to open a political office for peace negotiations in Qatar, the Guardian has learned.

According to sources familiar with the talks in the US and in Afghanistan, the handful of Taliban figures will include Mullah Khair Khowa, a former interior minister, and Noorullah Noori, a former governor in northern Afghanistan.

More controversially, the Taliban are demanding the release of the former army commander Mullah Fazl Akhund. Washington is reported to be considering formally handing him over to the custody of another country, possibly Qatar.

The releases would be to reciprocate for Tuesday's announcement from the Taliban that they are prepared to open a political office in Qatar to conduct peace negotiations "with the international community" – the most significant political breakthrough in ten years of the Afghan conflict....

Much more here.

Are you paying attention?

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