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Coalition, Afghan Soldiers Kill Taliban Commanders, Others in Terrorist Sweep

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2009 – Coalition and Afghan forces have killed 16 insurgents in western Afghanistan in recent days, including at least three Taliban commanders, military officials reported.

A coalition forces precision strike today killed a militant commander affiliated with the Hezb-e-Islam Gulbuddin organization and other Taliban commanders near Gozara district in Herat province.

Coalition forces learned that a key militant commander and a group of militants were in the vicinity of Gozara district, east of Herat. Once their exact location was confirmed, coalition forces engaged the hideout with a precision strike, destroying two vehicles and killing the militants inside their compound.

The militant commander was believed to be responsible for increasing violence in Herat over recent months, including attacks against a United Nations Assistance Mission compound and attacks against the Herat City Airport, both in May.

Also today, Afghan National Army commandos, assisted by coalition forces, killed five insurgents while searching the compound of a suspected weapons facilitator in the Qala Ga district of Farah province, east of the Iranian border.

The five insurgents were killed in three separate buildings within the compound after attacking the combined forces with small-arms fire as troops searched the area.

The commandos discovered a large quantity of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment during the search including 45 AK-47 assault rifles, two machine guns, two rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, four rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, 10,000 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, two grenades, a mortar sight, a set of commercial-grade night-vision goggles and 12 sets of body armor. The search also yielded 150 pounds of opium.

The Afghan soldiers protected 29 men, 35 women and 41 children during the operation.

No military or civilian casualties were reported.

In other operations:

-- Coalition forces used a precision air strike in Badghis province near the Turkmenistan border yesterday, killing the Taliban leader of the province and eight of his associates. Coalition forces learned through intelligence sources that Mullah Dastighir and a group of associates were in the Darya-ye-Morghab village. Forces engaged the target compound with a precision air strike, destroying a building and killing the militants inside. Dastighir was believed to be responsible for increasing violence in Badghis in recent months, including attacks against coalition and Afghan security forces and a November attack on an Afghan National Army convoy that killed 13 soldiers.

-- Afghan National Police and coalition forces detained a suspected roadside bomb facilitator Feb. 15 while searching a compound in the Gereshk district of Helmand province. The man is suspected of distributing bomb-making materials to insurgent commanders throughout the Gereshk district and surrounding areas.

-- Afghan National Army and coalition forces conducted an early morning search Feb. 15 of a suspected insurgent compound near the Khak-e-Safid village in Farah province, which resulted in the killing of a Taliban commander. When combined forces entered the compound, the man had an AK-47 assault rifle aimed at them. Coalition forces fired on the subject in self-defense, killing him. Afghan and coalition forces identified the militant as a known senior Taliban commander and weapons facilitator within Farah province. No military or civilian casualties were reported during this operation.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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