Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Extremists, Destroy Heroin Lab, Promote Rule of Law
August 30, 2007
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service, Aug. 30, 2007) - Afghan national security forces advised by coalition forces killed more than 100 insurgent fighters in a battle that started yesterday morning and continues in the northern part of Afghanistan's Kandahar province, military officials reported.
The combined force was on a combat patrol five miles south of Chenartu Village when it were attacked by a large group of insurgents from reinforced fighting positions using small arms, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. Throughout the battle, insurgents continued to reinforce the area, engaging Afghan government forces in an attempt to overrun their position.
The Afghan-led force used small arms and crew-served weapons to repel the enemy attack while calling for close-air support, which destroyed the enemy hilltop positions with bombing runs. Coalition aircraft destroyed the reinforced enemy emplacements and sniper positions as well as two trucks used to reinforce and resupply the insurgent force.
One Afghan security force member was killed in the battle. Three coalition forces and three Afghan troops also were wounded in the engagement. No civilians were killed or wounded, as all targets were engaged in open and unpopulated areas.
"Afghan national security forces are maintaining constant pressure on extremists to deny them access to any support bases," said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokeswoman. "The Afghan troops are effectively engaging criminal forces at work in this country and enjoying increasing success in their efforts to bring security to all Afghans. The engagement shows how far they have come in their development."
In other operations yesterday, Afghan and coalition forces detained seven men in Ghazni province. Intelligence reports led the forces to compounds in the Ghazni district of the province that were suspected of providing sanctuary to a Taliban-affiliated militant. The detainees will be questioned as to their involvement in militant activities, officials said.
"Violent extremists are not concerned with the welfare of the peaceful Afghan people," Capt. Bowman said. "The enemies of peace and stability continue to disregard the safety of non-combatants by hiding amongst them, using civilian areas to support their campaign of terror and willfully disrupting innocent Afghan's attempts to lead peaceful lives."
Also, Afghan and coalition forces detained six suspected militants during an operation in Nangarhar province. The forces suspected the targeted compounds, located in the Boti Kot district, were housing a militant responsible for facilitating the use of improvised explosive devices.
"Pockets of militants continue to attempt to disrupt the efforts toward prosperity in Afghanistan," Capt. Bowman said. "Their negative influence will not be tolerated in a country that has chosen development and progress."
<b>Taliban Heroin Lab Destroyed</b>
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, Afghan and coalition forces teamed up to defeat a group of Taliban insurgents protecting a heroin laboratory in Helmand province Aug. 26, officials reported.
Afterward, the Taliban launched a mortar attack against innocent civilians living almost a dozen kilometers north of the destroyed lab. The attack on the civilians came about an hour after Afghan and coalition forces bested an insurgent force, which was later determined to be guarding a large heroin lab. Both attacks followed a night of fighting between insurgents and Afghan and coalition troops. A number of insurgents were killed in the firefights.
The heroin lab was located about 23 kilometers south of Musa Qalah, a town in Helmand province that is known to support Taliban activities. The lab contained large amounts of opium-processing chemicals, such as ammonium chloride, liquid ammonia and charcoal. Two rifles, two shotguns, ammunition, insurgent propaganda and improvised-explosive-device materials also were recovered.
U.S. and Afghan forces destroyed the laboratory and continued on with their combat patrol. About 11 kilometers north of the destroyed lab, insurgents attempted a third ambush in less than 24 hours.
During the fighting, Taliban fighters launched an 82 mm mortar into group of Afghan civilians living in Regay village. No civilians were killed, but one suffered shrapnel wounds and was provided immediate medical attention.
Afghan and coalition forces are conducting combat patrols as part of Operation Palk Mesher in southern Afghanistan. The operation is designed to disrupt and eliminate insurgent activity in Helmand province, U.S. officials said.
The Taliban have made repeated attempts to deceive media outlets with civilian casualty claims. Credible intelligence suggests that these false claims are being made in an attempt to weaken Afghan government and coalition resolve, officials said.
"The insurgents continue to follow their pattern of falsely reporting civilian casualties and continuing to put civilians in harm's way in a vain attempt to stop the advance of the (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) forces toward their support areas," said Capt. Bowman. "With the discovery of their drug-making facilities, it is becoming increasingly clear why they want us to stop our operations.
"It is unfortunate that the enemies of peace and stability will stoop so low as to fire mortars at innocent Afghans to protect their drug trade," the captain said.
In other operations, Afghan soldiers accompanied by coalition troops thwarted a Taliban ambush during operations about 16 miles south of Musa Qalah, in Helmand province Aug. 25.
The Afghan-led patrol was crossing a tributary a few miles south of Regay village when more than 15 insurgents sprang an ambush with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. The Afghan and coalition forces repelled the attack. Twelve enemy fighters were killed; no Afghan army or coalition members were injured during the fighting. No Afghan civilian casualties were reported.
The area in and around the town of Musa Qalah is recognized as the largest Taliban stronghold left in Afghanistan, officials said. Afghan and coalition forces are conducting combat patrols in the area as part of Operation Palk Mesher. The operation is designed to disrupt and eliminate insurgent activity in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.
The purpose of the operation is "to strike into the heart of the insurgents' safe haven," Capt. Bowman said. "We expect that, as we maneuver deeper into this area, the Taliban will raise more and more inaccurate claims of non-combatant casualties."
The Taliban "hope that by carrying out this campaign of lies, they can get the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to end its campaign in the area," the captain said.
<b>Afghan Judges Receive First Law Books</b>
In other news from Afghanistan, the 37 judges in Afghanistan's Parwan province are the first of more than 450 judges within the Regional Command East area of responsibility to receive complete sets of Afghan law books.
Delivered Aug. 25 by the Bagram Reconstruction Team and Army Lt. Col. Chris Jacobs, an attorney with the Combined Joint Task Force 82 Staff Judge Advocate Office, these books are the first to be distributed as part of an Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and U.S. Agency for International Development initiative to distribute complete sets of Afghan law books to every judge in the country.
"For the first time since the Soviet era, each judge in Regional Command East will have complete access to up-to-date Afghan laws," said Army Capt. Ryan Kerwin, another attorney with Combined Joint Task Force 82. "This is significant, because most Afghan judges have either limited or no access to published law. This lack of legal resources made it very difficult, if not impossible, to correctly apply the law and ensure uniformity throughout the Afghan court system. The judges will now have the tools to make rulings based upon the laws of Afghanistan."
Each set of law books consists of 17 volumes that cover both criminal and civil law, including the constitution of Afghanistan, penal and civil codes, counternarcotics and human-rights law.
Parwan Chief Judge Fazil Rahmman Habibi and Head Army Prosecutor Zikria Shitab said they are very glad to receive the law books.
"I cannot remember the last time each judge had his own set of Afghan law books," Mr. Habibi said. "We really appreciate getting these books; we've been in need of them, but they are very expensive, so we are grateful to get them."
"We will be sure to distribute the books to all the judges of Parwan, they will gain a lot of knowledge from them," Mr. Shitab added.
It took several months to organize the project. To begin, thousands of books were published and prepared for delivery. Provincial reconstruction teams will help distribute the books to provincial courts throughout the country over the next several months.
Combined Joint Task Force 82 is working to improve the Afghan judicial system and help promote the rule of law in Afghanistan in various ways, from building courts and prosecutors' offices, and improving jails to providing legal resources and coordinating with agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development.
"CJTF 82 has taken big steps to help push the rule of law in Afghanistan forward," Capt. Kerwin said. "Developing the rule of law in Afghanistan is a difficult task that will take decades. Judge advocates at both the headquarters and task forces have worked hard to help push the Afghan justice system forward."
(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases. Senior Airman Dilia DeGrego also contributed to this article)