Friday, March 9, 2012

US drones kill 13 in South Waziristan strike

Unmanned US Predator or Reaper strike aircraft killed 13 "militants" in an airstrikes in the Miramshah and Mir Ali areas of Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of south Waziristan today. The strikes broke a three-week-long lull in US attacks in the tribal areas.

The CIA-operated drones fired a pair of missiles at a vehicle and a home in South Waziristan, according to Dawn News, killing 13 people. Pakistani officials said that 12 "militants" were killed in the strike, according to The Associated Press.

The exact target of the strike was not disclosed. No senior al Qaeda or Taliban commanders have been reported killed.

US strikes in Pakistan in 2012

Today's strike is the first in Pakistan's tribal areas in 21 days, and just the eighth this year. It is just the first in South Waziristan. The other seven strikes took place in North Waziristan; six of those strike have taken place in or around Miramshah in North Waziristan, a stronghold of the Haqqani Network.
The program has been scaled down from its peak in 2010, when the US conducted 117 strikes. In 2011, the US carried out just 64 strikes in Pakistan's border regions. With just 8 strikes in the first 10 weeks of 2012, the US is on a pace to carry out just 42 strikes in Pakistan this year.
The first strike this year took place on Jan. 11; it was the first by the US in Pakistan in 55 days. The previous strike took place on Nov. 16, 2011. The pause was the longest since the program was ramped up at the end of July 2008 [see LWJ report, US drone strikes in Pakistan on longest pause since 2008, from Dec. 19, 2011].

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Taliban ambush kills 7 Pakistani soldiers

MIRANSHAH: Taliban militants armed with guns and rockets ambushed a Pakistani military convoy Friday, killing seven soldiers in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan, officials said.

The attack took place at Khar Qamar, 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Miranshah, the main town in the district that has become the most notorious Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani security officials said nine militants were also killed in the attack, but there was no independent confirmation of the toll.

"At least seven soldiers were martyred when militants fired machine guns and rockets on a military convoy," a senior security official told AFP.

Other security officials in Peshawar, the biggest city in northwest Pakistan, confirmed the attack and that the toll had risen from four to seven.

"After the ambush, Pakistani military helicopters and troops retaliated and there were reports of deaths of nine militants," an intelligence official said.

Pakistan has for years battled homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt on the Afghan border. It says more than 3,000 soldiers have died but has resisted US pressure to carry out a sweeping offensive in North Waziristan.

US and Afghan officials say Taliban use Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt as a rear base in their 10-year insurgency against Kabul and US troops.

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DOD Identifies Units for Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

DOD Identifies Units for Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

            The Department of Defense announced today three major units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan.  The Spring 2012 scheduled rotation involves one corps headquarters with more than 500 personnel; one division headquarters with more than 700 personnel; and a brigade combat team with more than 3,000 personnel to include:

            Headquarters units:

                        V Corps Headquarters, Wiesbaden, Germany
                        1st Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Riley, Kan.

            Brigade Combat Team:

                        4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

            The Department of Defense will continue to announce major deployments as they are approved.  For information on the respective deployments contact the following:  V Corps Headquarters, contact the V Corps public affairs office at 011-49-611-705-2057.  1st Infantry Division Headquarters, contact the 1st Infantry Division public affairs office at 785-240-4937, or 785-240-1796.  4th BCT, 4th Infantry Division, contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at 719-526-4143.  Army Public Affairs, contact OCPA-Media Relations at 703-697-7550.

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Seven soldiers, two Shi'ite rebels killed in clashes in north Yemen

SANAA, March 8 (Xinhua) -- At least seven Yemeni soldiers and two Shi'ite rebels were killed in clashes on Thursday in the northern restive province of Amran, a provincial security official said.

"Lieutenant Colonel Nashwan al-Kiliby, head of the 4th battalion of the 103 infantry brigade, and six of his bodyguards were killed in clashes after they refused to hand over their military vehicle and personal firearms to the rebels," the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

While, the Defense Ministry accused the rebel group of launching aggression against the army personnel.

The gunfight took place in Amran's district of Harf Sufyan at a checkpoint manned by the rebels, known also as Houthis after the name of their leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, said the official.

Abdulmalik al-Houthi said two of his fighters were killed and five others wounded in the shootout which is "unjustified brutal aggression on his followers."

"We advise the members of the armed forces to reject any orders to carry out such hostile act of aggression against the people," said al-Houthi in a statement released by his media office.

Amran province, about 50 km north of the capital Sanaa, has recently witnessed a deadly sectarian fighting between the Houthi- led Shi'ite rebels and Sunni fundamentalists over the few past months.

On Aug. 26, 2010, the Yemeni government and the Shi'ite group signed an agreement in Qatar to cement a fragile cease-fire to end an on-and-off war since 2004, but the rebels' clashes with local tribesmen are still rocking the region.

Beside Amran, Houthis also have been engaging in severe sectarian conflicts for several months with Sunni groups in Saada and neighboring provinces of Hajja and al-Jouf that left hundreds of people killed and forced thousands of residents to flee their villages.

Exploiting one-year-old protests against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the rebels have been trying to expand their control over the country's northern provinces, according to government officials.

Last month, the Houthis publicly denounced the legitimacy of a political-settlement deal that swore in the country's consensus President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and ended almost a year of protests against Saleh.

Hadi promised to launch a national dialogue involving Houthi group and other small opposing factions to settle the political crisis that had almost dragged the impoverished Arab country to the edge of civil war.
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Al-Qaida confirms death of Badr Mansoor

Map of Pakistan
Map of Pakistan (Photo credit: Omer Wazir)
Al-Qaida has confirmed the death of one of its commander in Pakistan, Badr Mansoor, saying he was killed in an American drone strike last month.

The U.S.-based SITE monitoring service said on Friday that the confirmation came in a video statement released on an Internet forum.

The video says Badr Mansoor was killed on Feb. 9 close to the Afghan border. He was alleged to have run a training camp for militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

CIA drone strikes inside Pakistan are one of the main sticking points in tense relations between Washington and Islamabad. Their frequency has dropped in recent months.

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R.I.P. - Spc. Edward J. Acosta

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
 Spc. Edward J. Acosta, 21, of Hesperia, Calif., died March 5, in La Jolla, Calif., of injuries sustained Dec. 3, 2011, when his vehicle was struck by an improvised-explosive device in Wardak province, Afghanistan.
Acosta was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas.
For more information related to this release, media may contact the First Armored Division Public Affairs office at 915-744-8406 or 915- 203-3769.

Acosta enlisted in August 2008, trained as a combat medic, deployed to Korea in 2009 and was promoted in 2010.
He deployed to Afghanistan in October and earned awards including Purple Heart and combat medical badge...

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Mar.09., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Mar. 09) – An Afghan and coalition security force captured several Taliban leaders during an operation in Maidan Shahr district, Wardak province, today.
Two of the leaders planned and conducted attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the district along Highway 2, including an attack in January against a convoy that left three Afghan National Army Soldiers wounded.

The other leaders provided weapons and ammunition to a cell of multiple insurgents that conducted roadside bomb and direct fire attacks in the district.

The security force detained one additional suspected insurgent as a result of this operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:

An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban leader during an operation in Lashkar Gah district, Helmand province, today. The leader conducted roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan civilians and security forces throughout central Helmand province. The security force detained one additional suspected insurgent as a result of this operation.
In Marjah district, Helmand province, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban leader today. The leader directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Nad ‘Ali district and supplies insurgents with weapons and equipment. The security force detained multiple suspected insurgents during the operation.

An Afghan Provincial Response Company supported by coalition mentors killed three insurgents while responding to an attack against an Agricultural Business Development team in Alisheng district, Laghman province, Tuesday. The team struck an improvised explosive device while travelling to conduct development on key infrastructure projects in the area. Shortly after, an unknown number of insurgent forces then engaged the team with small arms fire. The PRC deployed to the scene and engaged the insurgent attackers, killing three and forcing rest to flee.

In Bak district, Khost province, an Afghan led security force captured a Haqqani leader during an operation today. The leader directed roadside bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the Terayzai and Bak districts. The security force detained one additional suspected insurgent and seized multiple mortar rounds and explosive devices during the operation.

Finally, an Afghan and coalition security force conducted an operation in search of a Taliban leader in Zurmat district, Paktiya province, today. The leader orchestrates roadside bombings and other attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the district. He is also suspected in the January kidnapping of a man working at a coalition base in Gardez district. The security force detained two suspected insurgents as a result of the operation.
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