Thursday, July 9, 2009
Insurgents begin to feel the pinch of British and American ops
As the British-led Operation Panther’s Claw and US-led Operation River Liberty pushed on across tough terrain, strewn with IEDs, Governor Mangal reassured the Afghan people that very definite progress was being made: “The places that were underneath the insurgents are now with the government. We can now look to the future and reconstruction projects, where the people can have a say in rebuilding their own villages.”
Brigadier General Mohaiyodin, local Commander of the Afghan National Army hailed the joint Afghan-ISAF operations as a continuing success. “These operations are different compared to the others. All three sides, British, US and Afghan discussed plans before the operations began and decided on a definite plan targeting places controlled by the Taliban. We feel we can achieve a lot for the Afghan government and the local people in these areas.”
The British operation, involving 3000 troops, was launched three weeks ago with a large scale air assault along the Nahr e Burgha Canal around ten miles north of Lashkar Gah. Over the course of the next week from British and Afghan Forces, with a Danish and Estonian contingent, moved along the Shamalan canal, seizing a number of key crossing points.
The battlegroup was faced with fierce fighting, often at close-quarters, as the insurgents took aim from rooftops and compound walls, in the sweltering heat of the Afghan summer.
Last night the resilience of British and Afghan troops appeared to be paying off, with soldiers positively identifying a convoy of vehicles carrying Taliban fighters as they attempted to flee from the Babiji area across a canal earlier seized as part of Operation Panther’s Claw.
Aerial video footage shows a large number of insurgents attaching buoyant barrels to their vehicles before floating them across the waterway in a desperate bid to avoid taking on the fire power and hardened resolve of British and Afghan soldiers.
Calling in an airstrike, an Apache helicopter swooped along the canal destroying a number of vehicles and killing some of the insurgents responsible for the fierce fighting that British troops have encountered over the last three weeks.
Brigadier Radford said “It was always our intention to squeeze the insurgents in this area and, looking at last night’s activity, that appears to be exactly what is happening. The operation is by no means complete, but we are sending a very clear message to the insurgents that this is not a short term commitment. Where we go, we will stay and secure. We will not allow them to return and strike fear into the communities that have lived under their regime for so long. Seeing the insurgents leaving in number is a very encouraging sign, but we are well aware that there is still some way to go.”
In the wake of the death of seven British soldiers in the last seven days, Brigadier Radford vowed that their loss would not be in vain. “I was on the ground with my soldiers in the Green zone just yesterday and, if anything, our losses have just galvanised their determination to succeed. Morale is high and that’s because, hour by hour and day by day, they can feel they are winning.”