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Afghan, Coalition Forces Continue Anti-Taliban Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2007 – Coalition forces detained six men during an operation in Afghanistan’s Paktia province today, military officials reported.

Intelligence reports led coalition forces to compounds suspected of housing violent extremist militants, where they found grenades, blasting caps, an ammunition vest and a firing device during a search.

“Coalition forces will continue to root out militants whose activities threaten the peace and stability of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokeswoman.

In operations yesterday, elements of 1st Brigade, 207th Afghan National Army Corps, advised by coalition forces, were involved in a battle that lasted more than 13 hours in Helmand province.

The Afghan-led forces were conducting a combat patrol to clear the area of Taliban fighters when they were ambushed by an estimated 50 insurgents using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine guns from multiple fortified positions and buildings. Civilians were observed leaving the area before the battle, providing an early warning to the forces that an attack was forthcoming, officials said.

Afghan force quickly repelled the initial attack and moved to higher ground, where they suppressed the enemy positions and called for air support. Aircraft did not engage for more than 12 hours to make sure that any remaining civilians had ample time to safely leave the area, U.S. officials said.

Various intelligence sources indicate that insurgents were reinforcing the existing positions from the nearby towns of Gulistan and Kuska Safio. Military officials reported that 50 to 100 reinforcing insurgent fighters could have entered the area during the fight.

Coalition aircraft engaged Taliban positions that continued to fire on Afghan forces. Ten insurgents were confirmed killed, with scores more estimated to have been killed or wounded, officials said. No Afghan or coalition forces were wounded in the engagement.

“The location, size of Taliban presence and ferocity of this engagement suggests that the insurgents are being forced to make a stand,” Bowman said. “It is becoming more obvious that as the (Afghan national security forces) grow stronger, the Taliban’s influence is diminishing. We should expect more of these types of large-scale engagements as the insurgents start to run out of places to hide. ”

In other news from Afghanistan, elements of the Afghan National Army, advised by coalition forces, were on patrol when they were attacked by insurgent fighters in Oruzgan province Aug. 8.

An unknown number of insurgents attacked the reconnaissance patrol from several buildings using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. The combined Afghan and coalition force repelled the attack with small arms. As the insurgents attempted to reinforce the fighting positions, the Afghan-led patrol split into two assault groups and stormed the buildings, clearing them of insurgents.

Several insurgents were killed, and four were captured, including one wounded insurgent. The remaining enemy fighters quickly retreated as air support arrived, officials said.

"The desperation of the Taliban continues to increase as their attacks become less effective," Bowman said. "They continue to have no regard for human life as they needlessly sacrifice their followers while endangering innocent civilians."

(Compiled from Combined Joint Task Force 82 news releases.)

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