US and Afghan forces kill 150 Taliban militants

Heli dropped US and Afghan forces killed upto 150 Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in a surprise major assault along Afghanistan`s border with Pakistan.

Washington: Heli dropped US and Afghan
forces killed upto 150 Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in a
surprise major assault along Afghanistan`s border with
Pakistan.

A force of about 700 US and Afghan troops flown into
the area by Black Hawk helicopters seized the mountainous high
ground in Kunar provinces, Marwara districts and launched a
swoop pre-dawn on Sunday on unsuspecting 200 insurgents camped
in the area.

Two US soldiers died in the assault described by
American commanders as "the most intense battles of the past
year" in which 150 Taliban fighters were killed including
elements of al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban fighters,
Washington Post reported.

A large number of Pakistani Taliban and other
militants were sheltering in the area to escape the Pakistan
army operation in the neighbouring South Waziristan district,
US military officers said.

"Once the battle began, other elements from the area
tried to enter the fight," Col. Andrew P Poppas, who commands
the US forces in the area, told the Washington Post.

Before the battle, US forces estimated that as many as
250 insurgents had infiltrated the remote district and there
had been sharp increase in deadly roadside bombings, mortar
and rocket attacks.

US commander said that in contrast to the lead-up to
the major battle in Marjah this year, US and Afghan troops did
ngive any advance warnings of the offensive in the remote
region close to Pakistan border, which had been the site of
several deadly ambushes on US forces in the past two years.

Washington Post, quoting senior US military officers,
said the Afghan army, police and border force made up about 60
per cent of the attacking force and played a central role in
planning the assault.

The US forces said that the area`s sub-governor had
been a former Mujhaeddin commander decades earlier in the same
mountains and knew the area so well.

US officials said the heaviest fighting in the area
ended by the Monday morning and now US and Afghan forces were
re-establishing the Afghan police and local government in the
district`s main village.

The assault represents one of the largest in eastern
Afghanistan in the past several years and reflects growing
concerns among the US commanders and Afghan leaders that
Taliban insurgents are seeking to intensify pressure in the
east as troops prepare for a tough summer of fighting in the
south, US officials said.

PTI

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