Air Strike Targets Senior Insurgent Leader

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2010 - Coalition forces in Afghanistan today employed a precision air strike against an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior member assessed to be the deputy shadow governor for Takhar province, military officials said.

The senior insurgent member is linked to attacks involving known IMU and Taliban members, and he is known to have traveled from Pakistan to Takhar this spring.

Intelligence tracked the insurgents traveling in a sedan on a series of remote roads in Rustaq district. After careful planning to ensure no civilians were present, coalition aircraft conducted a precision air strike on one sedan and later followed with direct fire from an aerial platform. The vehicle was traveling as part of a six-car convoy, but no other vehicles were hit in the strike.

The security force was unable to immediately dispatch a ground force to assess the results, but initial reflections indicate eight to 12 insurgents were killed or injured in the strike, including a Taliban commander. Multiple passengers of the vehicle were positively identified carrying weapons.

"We're aware of the allegations that this strike caused civilian causalities and we'll do our best to get to the bottom of the accusations," said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Garza, deputy chief of staff for joint operations, Headquarters ISAF Joint Command. "What I can say is these vehicles were nowhere near a populated area and we're confident this strike hit only the targeted vehicle after days of tracking the occupants' activity."

In other news:

-- Multiple intelligence sources and tips from local citizens led Afghan and coalition forces to two large weapons caches which were secured and destroyed in the Sarobi district of Kabul province. The caches contained 129 82 mm mortar rounds, 13 61 mm mortar rounds, 61 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 25 boosters, one recoilless rifle, one anti-personnel mine, one heavy anti-aircraft gun, one vehicle gun mount, eight cans of ammunition, two 107 mm rockets, 24 40 mm rockets and 10 rocket fuses. The caches were destroyed in place.

-- Afghan security forces and ISAF soldiers from Task Force White Eagle and Brawler disrupted insurgents placing an improvised explosive device during combat operations in the Andar district of Ghazni province. An ISAF air weapons team observed five insurgents emplacing an IED, made a positive identification and engaged them, killing all five. The site was investigated and the insurgents' remains were turned over to Afghan police while the IED, the command wire, and several rocket-propelled grenades were destroyed.

-- Coalition forces repelled an insurgent attack in the Bermel district of Paktika province after a failed attack on Combat Outpost Margah. The attack began in the early morning with insurgent small arms and indirect fire against the outpost. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment responded to the attack with mortars and small-arms fire before calling for support from Task Force Viper, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. Aircraft conducted two passes over the area, killing at least 20 insurgents in two separate engagements. No coalition or Afghan forces were injured in the attack.

In Sept. 1 news:

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained two insurgents in Logar province in their continued pursuit of a Taliban commander, who leads 40 fighters in attacks against Afghan officials and coalition forces operating in Logar. The Taliban commander is linked to an Aug. 30 improvised explosive device strike that killed four U.S. soldiers.

-- Coalition forces conducted a precision air strike that killed a Taliban commander in Paktika province. The deceased Taliban chief had led an insurgent cell in northern Paktika, which provided improvised explosive devices and foreign fighters.

-- An allegation that ISAF activity caused civilian casualties was made in Kandahar province. The allegation is currently being investigated. Insurgents attacked an Afghan army convoy in the vicinity of Wazir village in the Zharay district of Kandahar on Highway 1, wounding one soldier. In response, a coalition aircraft engaged armed insurgents once they were positively identified and seen using their weapons. Following the strike, two other insurgents were observed rescuing the injured fighters and moving them into the back of a truck and then driving away from the area. An allegation of civilian casualties was made, providing a time and location that coincided with the engagement. ISAF immediately began reviewing the incident, and it has since been learned that there were civilians in the area. It was also reported that the insurgents hijacked the vehicle, which was used to transport their fighters, from a local resident following the engagement with combined forces. "It is likely that the insurgents used the cover of nearby civilians in an attempt to hide from coalition forces," said U.S. Air Force Col. James Dawkins, the director of the ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center. "Because preventing civilian casualties and protecting the Afghan people are so important to us, we are deeply saddened over this latest event. We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims." The number of casualties and extent of injuries is still being verified. A joint investigation is underway to determine the details of the incident.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several insurgents in Kandahar province, including two Taliban weapons facilitators operating around Kandahar City. The security force first targeted a compound in Daman district in pursuit of an insurgent known as one of the Taliban's primary facilitators for small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive device components. After initial questioning on the scene, the assault force identified and detained the facilitator. A separate security force targeted a compound a few kilometers south in Kandahar City, to search for another Taliban facilitator who acquires and distributes explosives, ammunition and weapons for Taliban commanders operating in the area. After Afghan forces conducted a call out, the security force cleared and secured the buildings. After initial questioning, the assault force identified and detained the facilitator and three additional insurgents for further questioning. The security force did not fire their weapons and they protected the women and children during the searches.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several insurgents, including the Taliban shadow governor of Musa Qal'ah district in Helmand province. The shadow governor facilitated and led improvised explosive device and direct fire attacks and handled funding for Taliban operations within his area.

-- Several insurgents, including Shaki Mama, a senior Taliban commander, were killed during a coalition air strike in Uruzgan province. Mama was targeted for planning, coordinating and executing attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also supplied IEDs to local insurgents and directed suicide attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. "As long as the Taliban commanders continue to harm the people of Afghanistan, ANSF and coalition forces will continue to target them," said U.S. Air Force Col. James Dawkins, director of the International Assistance Force Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center.

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