Afghanistan — Petraeus Praises Afghan Troop Growth; Taliban Leader Killed

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2010 — The com­man­der of the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force in Afghanistan today praised the Afghan defense min­istry for grow­ing its army ahead of sched­ule, while NATO forces con­firmed the death of a senior Tal­iban com­man­der killed in fight­ing with Afghan and inter­na­tion­al troops.

Afghanistan has reached its goal of 134,000 trained Afghan sol­diers two months ahead of sched­ule, mark­ing a mile­stone in the coun­terin­sur­gency strat­e­gy, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said.

Less than six months ago, Petraeus said, Afghan army strength stood at about 107,000 trained sol­diers, with a tar­get of reach­ing 134,000 by Octo­ber. He called the pace of growth “remark­able.”

“Increas­ing the size and capa­bil­i­ty of the Afghan secu­ri­ty forces is a cen­tral ele­ment of the joint Afghan-ISAF strat­e­gy to increase secu­ri­ty for the Afghan peo­ple in areas chal­lenged by the insur­gency,” Petraeus said. “Such secu­ri­ty pro­vides the foun­da­tion on which local gov­er­nance can be devel­oped, basic ser­vices for the peo­ple can be improved, and a brighter future for the next gen­er­a­tion of Afghan cit­i­zens can be built.”

Petraeus’ com­ments came as ISAF offi­cials today con­firmed that a com­bined force of Afghan and ISAF troops killed Malauwi Ghu­lam Haideri, a senior Tal­iban com­man­der, and Mulauwi Sher Agha, a Tal­iban facil­i­ta­tor, dur­ing an Aug. 4 oper­a­tion.

Dur­ing the oper­a­tion, offi­cials said, an hour-long fire fight that result­ed when insur­gents engaged the assault force left at least 14 insur­gents dead. No Afghan or coali­tion forces were hurt.

The assault force searched the area and found and destroyed 26 rock­et-pro­pelled grenades, mul­ti­ple auto­mat­ic weapons, grenades, a recoil­less rifle, an antiper­son­nel mine and about 1,000 rounds of ammu­ni­tion.

In oth­er oper­a­tions in Afghanistan:

— Afghan and coali­tion forces killed nine insur­gents dur­ing oper­a­tions in War­dak province today. The forces came under ene­my small-arms and rock­et-pro­pelled-grenade fire from mul­ti­ple posi­tions, includ­ing a vehi­cle. Two U.S. Air Force F‑16s pro­vid­ed close-air sup­port with 20 mm can­non fire. No civil­ians were injured.

— An Afghan and coali­tion secu­ri­ty force detained sev­er­al sus­pect­ed Tal­iban insur­gents in Kan­da­har province yes­ter­day, includ­ing a cell com­man­der who direct­ed and facil­i­tat­ed sui­cide-bomber attacks in Kan­da­har City. After ques­tion­ing the tar­get­ed compound’s res­i­dents, the assault force detained the com­man­der and oth­er sus­pect­ed insur­gents. High-explo­sive mate­r­i­al was found and destroyed at the scene. The secu­ri­ty force did not fire their weapons and pro­tect­ed women and chil­dren.

— An Afghan and coali­tion force detained two sus­pect­ed Tal­iban insur­gents in War­dak province’s Chak‑e War­dak dis­trict yes­ter­day while in pur­suit of a Tal­iban sub­com­man­der respon­si­ble for bomb­ing, direct-fire and kid­nap­ping oper­a­tions along High­way 1. The secu­ri­ty force found and con­fis­cat­ed a sniper rifle and a shot­gun, did not fire their weapons, and pro­tect­ed women and chil­dren.

— An Afghan and coali­tion secu­ri­ty force killed two sus­pect­ed insur­gents and detained sev­er­al more Pak­tia province’s Zur­mat dis­trict yes­ter­day while in pur­suit of a Tal­iban sub­com­man­der involved in all phas­es of bomb­ing attacks. Two armed insur­gents threat­ened the secu­ri­ty force out­side the tar­get­ed com­pound. An air weapons team engaged and killed the insur­gents, who were armed with auto­mat­ic weapons, grenades and chest racks. After ques­tion­ing the res­i­dents, the assault force detained sev­er­al sus­pect­ed insur­gents, one of whom attempt­ed to avoid cap­ture by dress­ing in women’s attire. The force found auto­mat­ic weapons, rock­et-pro­pelled grenades with a launch­er and sev­er­al hand grenades at the scene, and pro­tect­ed the women and chil­dren who were present.

— A com­bined secu­ri­ty force detained more than 20 sus­pect­ed insur­gents in Zab­ul province’s Shamulzai dis­trict yes­ter­day while pur­su­ing an al-Qai­da mem­ber known to bring for­eign fight­ers into the area. The force searched a remote com­pound and detained more than 15 sus­pect­ed insur­gents after ques­tion­ing the res­i­dents. A sep­a­rate secu­ri­ty force lat­er pur­sued a group of sus­pect­ed Pak­istani for­eign fight­ers who fled the tar­get­ed com­pound. After clear­ing the fol­low-on area, the force detained sev­er­al addi­tion­al sus­pects and found a rock­et-pro­pelled grenade and rifle at the scene. The force did not fire their weapons and pro­tect­ed women and chil­dren through­out the search.

— A com­bined force detained sev­er­al sus­pect­ed Tal­iban insur­gents in north of the Vazirin Khugyani dis­trict in Nan­garhar province yes­ter­day while in pur­suit of a Tal­iban sub­com­man­der involved in plan­ning attacks against Afghan and coali­tion forces. After ques­tion­ing the res­i­dents of the tar­get­ed com­pound, the assault force detained the sus­pect­ed insur­gents. The secu­ri­ty force did not fire their weapons and pro­tect­ed women and chil­dren who were present.

Also yes­ter­day in Afghanistan, three Afghan civil­ians were killed and two were wound­ed when their vehi­cle struck device road­side bomb in Ghazni province’s Wag­haz dis­trict. Anoth­er Afghan civil­ian was injured in an an insur­gent bomb blast in Hel­mand province’s Nahr‑e Saraj dis­trict, and an insur­gent bomb in Khost province’s Bak dis­trict killed two Afghan civil­ians was and wound­ed anoth­er.

Two Afghan chil­dren were killed and one was injured yes­ter­day when insur­gents fired at coali­tion forces in Log­ar province’s Bara­ki Barak dis­trict with small arms and rock­et-pro­pelled grenades. The wound­ed child was evac­u­at­ed to a near­by hos­pi­tal for med­ical care.

Also, insur­gents fired four rock­et-pro­pelled grenades at a mosque near Asad­abad in Kunar province this morn­ing. One RPG broke win­dows and knocked down a tree, but no one was injured.

Com­piled from Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force and ISAF Joint Com­mand News Releas­es

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