Monday, February 15, 2010

Operation Moshtarak: 15,000 troops braced for enemy fightback in Afghanistan

Chris Hughes, The Mirror

It is the biggest offensive against the Taliban since coalition troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

And Operation Moshtarak - involving 15,000 troops and scores of helicopters - is so far going to plan.

One British general said: "It has worked really well... but the threat is still there."

And last night, the commanders were under no illusion that the Taliban would soon be mounting counter-attacks.

Thousands of British troops stormed three Taliban-controlled points in Our Central Helmand as nearly 8,000 US Marines blasted their way into Taliban-held Majer. Danish and Estonian and Afghan infantry soldiers were also involved.

The main UK sectors of the operation are to the north east of Majer in Nad-e-Ali, the Chahe Anjir Triangle and South West Babaji.

Crucially, the Taliban flag was lowered by Afghan troops in the area of Shawal, in the north west of the Chahe Anjir triangle.

Last night, it was claimed that more than 20 Taliban fighters had been killed and many more injured in the fighting.

Eleven Taliban prisoners were taken in the initial strike and were handed over to intelligence units for questioning before facing the Afghan justice system. The first British soldier to be killed in the surge was named last night as Lance Sergeant David Greenhalgh, 25, of the Grenadier Guards.

And, despite the initial successes, the US were slammed after a bungled rocket attack killed 12 civilians in Helmand's Majer sector.

President Karzai, who personally approved the operation, called for an investigation into the attack, which missed a Taliban group and killed the 12 Afghans taking refugein a building.

Before the operation, Mr Karzai had urged Nato and Afghan forces to be "seriously careful about the safety of civilians".

General Stanley McChrystal, who is top commander in Afghanistan, issued a statement saying: "We deeply regret this tragic loss of life. The current operation in Central Helmand is aimed at restoring security and stability to this vital area of Afghanistan. It is regrettable that in the course of our joint efforts innocent lives were lost."

Last night in Central Helmand, blasts could be heard every 10 minutes as US marines and Afghans blew up the Taliban's improvised explosive devices. Sporadic gunfire broke out throughout Majer and also in the UK-held positions to the north east of the former Taliban no-go area.

Yesterday in London, Major General Gordon Messenger said: "This means no more shadow governance by the Taliban there. This operation has not been short of complexities but, so far, it has worked really well. There are still attacks, mostly from small arms, and our troops are being tested. Elders were warned that an attack was about to happen in Shuras.

To read the full article click here

1 comment:

  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/17/2010 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.