Washington: An Afghan operation to flush out
Taliban rebels and showcase growing military competence has
turned into a debacle, with many troops dead or captured and
commanders pleading for help, The New York Times reported on Friday.
A senior US official with knowledge of the mission --
apparently not coordinated in advance with NATO officers --
said commanders called for backup from foreign forces after at
least 10 Afghan soldiers were killed and up to 20 captured
since the operation began August 3 in a rugged region east of
Fighting has raged so intensely over the past week in the
area around Bad Pakh village, in Laghman province, that the
Red Cross has been unable to reach the battle zone and
evacuate the wounded and dead, the Times reported.
"There are several soldiers unaccounted for and killed,"
a senior American military official was quoted as saying on
condition of anonymity because the operation was ongoing.
He said "about 10" soldiers had been killed.
"There are a lot of lessons to be learned here," he said.
"How they started that and why they started that."
NATO has reportedly sent in French and American rescue
A high-ranking official in Afghanistan`s Ministry of
Defense said the military`s plan was betrayed, and that
Taliban fighters were lying in wait to ambush the bulk of the
300 men from the First Brigade of the 201st Army Corps.
The ministry`s spokesman, Major General Muhammed Zahair
Azimi, said seven soldiers had died and that an unknown number
were taken prisoner.
"We can not say the number captured because some of them
were in difficult places, but some of our soldiers were
captured by the Taliban," Azimi said Wednesday, according to
A Taliban spokesman said 27 Afghan soldiers were killed,
14 wounded and eight captured, the paper reported. The Taliban
often exaggerates its claims of damage and casualties.
The mission marks a major embarrassment for the Afghan
army, which said this week it has met a target of 134,000
troops two months ahead of schedule, and as it gears up to
take responsibility for security from US-led NATO forces
Despite its steady expansion of operational capacity, the
Afghan army runs few major missions on its own.
Afghanistan`s troops are at similar force size to NATO
troops on the ground. War monitor group iCasualties says 521
coalition soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2009, while
the Times reported 282 Afghan soldiers were killed.