American Forces Press Service
Sept. 2, 2007 - Several recent conflicts in Afghanistan's Helmand province have resulted in "scores" of insurgent deaths and detentions, Combined Joint Task Force- 82 officials said. Yesterday, Afghan National Auxiliary Police officers, advised by coalition forces, defeated an attempted Taliban ambush near the Musa Qalah valley, in the Helmand province. Musa Qalah, is widely considered as the largest Taliban stronghold left in Afghanistan.
The combined force was supporting an International Security Assistance Force unit as it crossed the valley when Taliban insurgents attacked. The insurgents used small-arms, machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire from several buildings connected by an extensive trench system.
Afghan, coalition and ISAF forces returned fire using small-arms and crew-served weapons. As the insurgents reinforced their positions with additional fighters, the ground-force commander called in coalition close-air support.
The compounds, which were positively confirmed as enemy positions, were targeted in the air strikes. Seven Taliban insurgents were killed during the fighting.
"The Taliban should know they will constantly be hunted until this country is free of their terrorist activities," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force- 82 spokesperson.
On Aug. 31, Afghan National Auxiliary Police officers, advised by coalition forces, quelled an insurgent attack in Regay, in the Musa Qalah district of the same province.
The joint force was on patrol when insurgents attacked with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from multiple compounds located in the northwestern portion of Regay.
Afghan forces maneuvered against the Taliban fighters after calling for close-air support. In the fight that ensued, nearly two dozen insurgents were killed.
Earlier that day, elements of the Afghan National Army, advised by coalition forces, continued an operation to clear the Taliban from both sides of the Musa Qalah valley during a combat patrol in Helmand province.
The Afghan-led patrol was about seven miles south of Regay village when insurgents attacked with RPGs and small-arms fire. The combined force repelled the attack using small-arms, machine-guns and MK-19 grenade launchers. The forces also called in air strikes as the fighting continued.
A number of enemy fighters were killed in the engagement.
"The continuation of this operation is having the desired effect of disrupting the insurgents in the heart of their support area," Belcher said. "The combat successes of the combined (Afghan national security forces) and coalition units are becoming routine in the Helmand province."
Afghan and coalition forces are conducting operations as part of the International Security Assistance Force's "Operation Palk Mesher" to disrupt and eliminate insurgents in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, six men were detained and several others were killed during an Aug. 31 operation in Ghazni province targeting a militant responsible for facilitating the movement of foreign fighters.
Credible intelligence led Afghan and coalition forces to a compound in the Dih Yak district where a weapons cache was found inside a vehicle. The cache, which included mortar and artillery rounds, numerous hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms rounds and various ammunition vests, was destroyed.
During the course of the operation, some damage to area compounds and fields occurred.
Coalition forces tracked down several armed males who attempted to flee the area. The suspects engaged the forces with small-arms fire and were killed when coalition forces returned fire.
In the Pitigal Valley region of Afghanistan, a joint Afghan force advised by coalition forces detained 11 insurgents and killed more than 20 others during a targeted strike against three compounds Aug. 31.
The Afghan National Army's 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, and officers from several Afghan National Police stations in the area, launched an air-assault in the mountainous region of the Kamdesh district, Nuristan province. The district is about 4 miles from the border with Pakistan.
Intelligence reports indicated insurgent leaders take refuge in the villages of Pitigal, Shetigal, and Destigal as they travel between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The remoteness of the villages has allowed the extremists to stage attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in lower valleys and retreat to their mountain sanctuary.
While clearing the objectives, the combined Afghan forces discovered a homemade bomb-making factory, various weapons, communication gear and uniform items.
Afghan forces took the detainees for questioning.
"Last night's operation to defeat this stronghold demonstrates (Afghanistan's) ability to project force into remote areas and legitimize its control over northeastern Afghanistan," Belcher said. "This (Afghan force-led) operation will have devastating effects on the insurgents' ability to operate in the area while demonstrating the futility of resisting the legitimate government of Afghanistan."
One coalition service member was wounded during the attack.
(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)