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Terrorist Facilitators Detained in Zabul Province

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2007 – An Afghan and coalition operation in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province yesterday resulted in the detention of five people suspected of being foreign-fighter facilitators.

The combined force of Afghan and coalition members conducted a search of a compound in the district where the foreign fighter facilitators were hiding. During the search, the combined force detained the five individuals.

“Afghan and coalition forces will continue to pursue all credible leads to prevent foreign-fighter recruits from joining extremist forces,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman.

In other news from Afghanistan, Afghan national security forces, supported by coalition and International Security Assistance Force troops swept through Gulestan during a 72-hour operation that began Nov. 9.

In total, more than 500 soldiers went door to door, searching houses and clearing the region of Taliban fighters who had occupied Gulestan earlier in the week. While the operation is still ongoing, Gulestan is now under Afghan control, U.S. officials said. Although final count has not been confirmed, initial reports indicate heavy Taliban casualties.

"During this operation, our soldiers conducted themselves exceptionally well," Afghan National Army Col. Jabar said. "The Taliban took a weak stance. They fought briefly before turning and running."

Gulestan is a mountainous area of Farah province, and the Taliban fled into the mountains to hide, Afghan Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang, chief of police, said. "Our soldiers are moving forward one step at a time," he said. "They are conducting this operation in a very professional manner."

During the Taliban occupation of Gulestan, six civilians and one police officer were executed, including relatives of the Gulestan district manager.

Elsewhere, Afghan National Army members saved the lives of two coalition soldiers during a reconnaissance patrol in Chineh village in Helmand province on Nov. 8.

The combined force was investigating a suspected mortar position inside Chineh village when several insurgents engaged them with rockets and small-arms fire. Two coalition servicemembers were pinned down in a life-threatening situation, but the Afghan soldiers charged the enemy position and suppressed the enemy fire, U.S. officials said.

The combined force then returned small-arms and machine-gun fire and precision close-air support, eliminating the Taliban fighting position. "The ANA soldiers performed with tactical precision and demonstrated bravery under fire," a coalition commander said. "They maneuvered and provided suppressive fire against the Taliban who had pinned down two coalition forces soldiers, ... saving their lives."

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

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