|China’s latest move in the graveyard of empires|
|[ATimes]The latest plot twist in the endless historical saga of Afghanistan as a graveyard of empires has thrown up an intriguing new chapter. For the past two months, Beijing and Kabul have been discussing the possibility of setting up a military base alongside Afghanistan’s border with China.|
“We are going to build it [the base] and the Chinese government has committed to help financially, provide equipment and train Afghan soldiers,” Mohammad Radmanesh, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, admitted to the AFP.
On the record, the Chinese Foreign Ministry only admitted that Beijing was involved in “capacity-building” in Afghanistan, while NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, led by the United States, basically issued a “no comment.”
The military base will eventually be built in the mountainous Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan.
It is one of the most spectacular, barren and remote stretches of Central Asia and according to local Kyrgyz nomads, joint Afghan-Chinese patrols are already active there. True to Sydney Wignall’s fabled Spy on the Roof of the World ethos, a great deal of shadow play is in effect. Apparently, this is basically about China’s own war on terror.
Beijing’s strategic priority is to prevent Uyghur fighters of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who have been exiled in Afghanistan, crossing the Wakhan Corridor to carry out operations across Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwest China. There is also the fear that ISIS or Daesh jihadis from Syria and Iraq may also use Afghanistan as a springboard to reach the country.
Even though the jihad galaxy may be split, Beijing is concerned about ETIM. As early as September 2013, the capo of historic al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, supported jihad against China in Xinjiang.
Later, in July 2014, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh said: “Muslim rights [should be] forcibly seized in China, India and Palestine.” Then, on March 1, 2017, Daesh released a video announcing its presence in Afghanistan, with the terror group’s Uyghur jihadis vowing, on the record, to “shed blood like rivers” in Xinjiang.
At the heart of the matter is China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or the New Silk Road, which will connect China with Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
For Beijing, the stability of one of its links, the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is seriously compromised if terror threats abound in Central and South Asia. It could also affect China’s sizable investments in Afghanistan’s mineral mining industry
|U.S. massive bomber strikes insurgents' positions in N. Afghanistan|
|[XINHUANET] The U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber has joined Afghan and coalition aircrafts to pounds' positions in northern Afghan provinces, authorities said Wednesday.|
On Tuesday, the of climbed to 28 after a B-52 warplane struck an (IS) terrorist group hideout in northern Jawzjan province, provincial deputy Police Chief Abdul Hafiz Khashi told Xinhua on Wednesday.
Earlier reports said that 13 IS after the bombing which occurred in Sar Dara locality of the mountainous Darzab district in Jawzjan, 390 km north of Kabul.
Violence has escalated in the previously peaceful northern region over the last few years as Afghan forces together with troops of -led Resolute Support and United States Forces-Afghanistan pushed against the in the south and east.
"United States Forces-Afghanistan launched a series of precision strikes in Northern Afghanistan in a direct effort to destroy revenue sources, training facilities, and support networks. Over the past 96 hours, U.S. forces conducted air operations to strike training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan." the coalition forces said in a statement on Tuesday.
The strikes also destroyed stolen Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicles that were in the process of being converted to s by s, it noted.
"During these strikes, a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided munitions on Taliban fighting positions, setting a record of the most guided munitions ever dropped from a B-52." the statement said.
|US conduct airstrikes near Tajikistan and China border with Afghanistan|
|[Khaama Press] The US Air Force has carried out a series of s on hideouts near the border with Tajikistan and China as efforts are underway to suppress the Taliban-led insurgency across the country as part of the ongoing massive air campaign.|
Over the past 96 hours, U.S. forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others, according to a report by -led Resolute Support Mission.
The strikes also destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised s.
The report further adds that during these strikes, a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided munitions on Taliban fighting positions, setting a record of the most guided munitions ever dropped from a B-52. The aircraft has played a leading role in Air Force operations for decades, and was recently reconfigured with a conventional rotary launcher to increase its reach and lethality.
Continued U.S. strikes disrupt Taliban support networks in province, as well as destroy their sources of revenue such as illegal narcotics, the report adds.
According to the Resoute Support, ongoing strikes in Helmand continue to degrade Taliban revenue sources and safe havens. U.S. strikes and ASSF raids have resulted in the removal of more than $30 million of Taliban revenue since the campaign began in November, 2017.
"The Taliban have nowhere to hide," said General John Nicholson, commander, USFOR-A. "There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group bent on bringing harm and destruction to this country."
|US launches airstrikes on Taliban training camps|
|[LWJ] The US military launched a series of airstrikes on Taliban training camps located in Afghanistan’s remote northeastern province of Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan. The camps were used by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other terrorist groups.|
“Over the past 96 hours, US forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan by such organizations as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and others,” Resolute Support announced in a press release.
According to Resolute Support, the airstrikes also “destroyed stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were in the process of being converted to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.”
Badakhshan, once a peaceful province, has become a Taliban hotbed since the US withdrew the bulk of its forces after the troop surge ended in 2012. Of Badakhshan’s 28 districts, LWJ assesses three to be Taliban controlled and another nine to be contested.
ETIM’s emir has served on al Qaeda’s shura, and it has operated a training camp that was sponsored by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. After the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan in 2001, the ETIM established training camps in Pakistan.
ETIM fighters have fought alongside the Taliban and other jihadist groups against Coalition and Afghan forces since the US first invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
The US has previously targeted ETIM leaders inside Pakistan in its drone campaign. In Aug. 2010, the US thought it killed Abdul Haq al Turkistani, the emir of the ETIM, in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan. Turkistani later re-emerged in a video in 2015, and said he was severely wounded in the 2010 drone strike. Abdul Haq issued another in 2016 that took al Qaeda’s side in its dispute with the Islamic State.
The US was also thought to have killed Emeti Yakuf (a.k.a. Abdul Shakoor Turkistani), in a drone strike in Pakistan in Aug. 2012. Yakuf took control of the ETIM as Turkistani was recovering from his injuries, and also took control of al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan’s tribal areas in 2010.
|US Forces Drop 4,300 Bombs On Insurgents In Afghanistan|
|[ToloNews] Statistics by the United States Air Force show that 4,300 bombes have been dropped by foreign troops in Afghanistan in 2017, targeting and other terrorist groups in parts of the country.|
According to the US Air Force figures, the number of s in 2017 was twice than of those carried out in the past two years ‐ 2015 and 2016.
US Air Force also has said this year they will bring in more airplanes to Afghanistan and will increase their support to the on the battlefields.
According to the figures, US and Afghan Air Force have conducted an average of 15 airstrikes daily in 2017 in south of Afghanistan.
The Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan said following the announcement of ’s new strategy for South-Asia and Afghanistan, the number of airstrikes against has increased significantly.
"Airstrikes are up significantly in 2017 primarily due to the South Asia policy which President Trump has signed and allowing us to go after both the Taliban and ISSK ( ) where they are. It is going to allow us to pursue them. The rules of engagement are now different," Resolute Support Mission (RS) Public Affairs Director Thomas Gresback said.
In the meantime, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that NATO will send in another 3,000 military trainers to Afghanistan to train Afghan forces.
Stoltenberg said the international community will not let Afghanistan to turn to a safe haven for s.
"Allies and partners are also adding three thousand more trainers to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, helping prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. Afghanistan has taught us that prevention is better than intervention," said Stoltenberg.
Afghan Defense Ministry meanwhile said the Afghan Air Force has changed their tactics and that they are carrying out airstrikes with a new approach to eliminate terrorists.
"We have increased our attacks and also we succeeded to eliminate a great number of the enemy's strongholds, equipment and personnel by operations carried out by air and ground forces," Defense Ministry deputy Mohammad Radmanish said.
"There will be significant results if these (military) operations are conducted in good coordination," former military officer Gen. Ahmad Shah Sangdil said.
The new remarks about the increase of airstrikes and sending in more advisers and trainers expressed amid currently over 20 provinces of the country are insecure and nearly 14 districts in different locations have collapsed to the Taliban.
In addition to this, recently Taliban has advanced toward Farah city fighting against . Despite ongoing fights in Farah city outskirts, fights also have been ongoing in parts of Kunduz province.
|Pakistan reacts at US airstrike on Haqqani network commander|
|[Khaama (Afghanistan)] Islamabad has strongly reacted at the the US targeting a commander of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network in the tribal regions of the country.|
"Pakistain condemns a in carried out by the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) this morning, which targeted an Afghan refugee camp," the ministry of foreign affairs of Pakistain said in a statement.
The statement further added that Pakistain has continued to emphasize to the US the importance of sharing actionable intelligence so that appropriate action is taken against by our forces within our territory.
This comes as the local administrative officials said Wednesday that the US forces have killed a top commander of the Haqqani terrorist network in North area of Pakistain days after the group carried out a deadly attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul city.
According to the local officials, the US unmanned aerial vehicles carried out s on a compound of the Haqqani terrorist network in North Waziristan, leaving at least three dead.
The airstrike was reportedly carried out in the vicinity of Speen Thal Dapa Mamozai in .
Station House Officer Thal, Ameer Zaman has confirmed to the local Dawn News that the death of a man named Nasir Mehmood alias Khawari.
|Taliban still has not felt full brunt of US-Afghan air power: Gen. Hecker|
|[Khaama (Afghanistan)] A top US commander in Afghanistan has said the Talibs have still not felt the full brunt of the air power of the Afghan and US forces.|
U.S. Air Force Major General James Hecker, commander of 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and Air Command-Afghanistan has said "The still has not felt the full brunt of American and Afghan air power."
"With the arrival of new air assets and the growing capabilities of Afghan pilots, the Talban will have a constant eye towards the sky as an integrated unified fight is aimed directly to them," Gen. Hecker quoted in a report by the Resolute Support said.
The report further adds that in a matter of days A-10s will conduct their first strike against the Taliban, continuing the air campaign destroying narcotics production facility. Since November, 30 strikes conducted against Taliban narcotics production facilities resulted more than $20 million in total impact on Taliban revenue.
Under the authorities granted in the South Asia Policy, precision strikes with A-10s will hit the Taliban where they are most vulnerable: their revenue streams and profits from developing and selling illegal narcotics, the report states.
According to the report, the Taliban will face a more aggressive adversary in this air campaign as U.S. Air Force F-22s, F-16s, B-52s, A-10s and MQ-9s, along with support from Navy F-18s, will join in counter-finance operations.
|Commandos free Afghans from Taliban ‘Red Unit’, destroy $3.4 mill of hashish in Helmand|
|[DVIDSHUB.NET] Commandos from Afghanistan’s 7th Special Operations Kandak conducted a night raid that liberated five Afghans from a "Red Unit" compound in Nahr-e Saraj district, province, Afghanistan, Jan. 1, 2018. The Commandos also destroyed over 1,000 kg of hashish, denying $3.4 million of illegal drug trafficking revenue to the anti-government insurgency.|
"The Taliban has turned into an organization that profits from the drug trade, and this is one of the motivations that their leaders have for continuing the fight," said Gen. John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander, in a Pentagon press briefing, Nov. 2017.
The Commandos eliminated seven members of the Taliban "Red Unit" defending the compound and detained an additional four fighters. The Afghan special operators also seized IED components, explosives, and a large cache of ammunition.
This is the third high-profile rescue by a Commando unit in the past two months. On Dec. 18, a team of Afghan Special Security Forces and local police rescued an imprisoned village elder who refused to collect illegal taxes imposed by the Taliban in Sharana district, province. On Nov. 19, 7th SOK conducted a night raid that freed more than 15 prisoners from a Taliban prison in Now Zad village, Helmand province. The Taliban imprisoned the Afghans due to their family members’ service with the legitimate Afghan military and police forces.
|Afghan forces receive HIMARS support during the counter-terrorism operations|
|[Khaama (Afghanistan)] The US military officials in Afghanistan are saying that the Afghan national defense and security forces receive High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) support from the US forces during the counter-terrorism operations.|
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan Crider, the Task Force Southwest HIMARS launch chief has said "Our mission is to have all-weather, 24-hour artillery support capability. Since HIMARS is the only weapon system that can do this, it provides fire support for any ANDSF personnel who need it."
Since their arrival, the Marines operating the HIMARS have executed more than ten missions in support of Afghan forces, helping them kill enemy fighters, destroy IED manufacturing and drug processing facilities, and enhance security for the populace, according to a report by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins in Resolute Support Headquarters.
The report further adds that since their arrival, the Marines operating the HIMARS have executed more than ten missions in support of Afghan forces, helping them kill enemy fighters, destroy Taliban IED manufacturing and drug processing facilities, and enhance security for the Helmand populace.
"HIMARS is capable of ranges of out to 300 kilometers. It’s a highly mobile system that is very adaptable to any condition, and it provides [commanders] with... surface-to-surface all-weather fires in order to support our partners on the ground," said U.S. Marine Capt. Justin Noone, the officer-in-charge of the HIMARS detachment.
According to the report, Helmand-based ANDSF relied solely on coalition and Afghan air assets to deliver explosives onto enemy locations during their operations prior to HIMARS arriving. By using GPS technology, HIMARS delivers highly-explosive rounds across the battlespace with precision, while also giving an alternative to air-to-ground fires capabilities.
|Taliban Kills 14 Afghan Troops, Suicide Car Bomb Targets NATO Convoy|
|[VOA News] have killed at least 14 Afghan troops and injured several others in a pre-dawn attack in southern province.|
Officials said Sunday stormed police outposts around the of Lashkargah, but security forces repelled the attack and ensuing fierce inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban.
A Taliban claimed the attack and gave a much higher for government forces.
Later, a in neighboring Kandahar province detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near a convoy.
Provincial police , Matiullah Helal, told VOA, the blast killed a woman passerby and five other civilians, but did not harm any foreign troops.
The Taliban routinely carry out guerrilla raids and s, mainly targeting and convoys of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, which comprises mostly U.S. forces.
|America's Longest-Serving Bomber Sets New Record For Most Smart Bombs Dropped On An Enemy|
|[Daily Caller] A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress, America’s longest-serving bomber, set a new record when it unleashed hell against terrorists on a combat mission in Afghanistan last month, according to the Department of Defense.|
During an expanded strike mission, B-52 bombers dropped 19 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) on the Taliban in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command spokeswoman Capt. AnnMarie Annicelli told Military.com. The strategic bombers were targeting opium and heroin facilities to cripple the revenue stream.
The Air Force "used B-52s with their new conventional rotary launcher," Air Force Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, the director of NATO’s Resolute Support mission explained Tuesday. "Of note, it was the single most ‐ largest number of precision munitions ever dropped from a B-52."
Bunch revealed that the U.S. military now has the authority to take the fight to the enemy in a new way. Under the Trump administration, the military now has greater freedom and independence with regard to how it chooses to engage the enemy.
|US military pound Taliban narcotics labs with M142 artillery system|
|[Khaama (Afghanistan)] The US military in Afghanistan has released fresh videos which purportedly shows the deadly strikes on narcotics labs in southern province of Afghanistan using the M142 artillery system.|
"A M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) conducts a strike on a Taliban narcotics production facility in Helmand province on December 8, 2017," the US Force in Afghanistan said.
According to a statement by USFOR-a "The artillery strike, part of an ongoing campaign by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), resulted in the destruction of nearly $1 million in direct Taliban revenues."
The US military says HIMARS is yet another U.S. capability being utilized to apply pressure on the Taliban, cutting off their economic lifelines and degrading their ability to continue operations.
The US military had earlier said "Carrier-based U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets conduct a strike on multiple Taliban narcotics production facilities in Helmand province on December 7, 2017, as part of an ongoing campaign by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and United States Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) to cut off the Taliban’s economic lifelines and degrade their ability to continue operations."
This comes as the commander of the -led Resolute Support Mission and the US forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said last month that the attacks on Taliban financial engine will continue as heavy losses have been inflicted on the group and its associated in recent raids.
"In just over three days’ worth of operations, the Afghan 215th Corps, their special forces commandos, their air force, in close cooperation with U.S. forces, removed between $7 million and $10 million of revenue from the Taliban’s pocketbook," Gen. Nicholson said.
He also added "And the overall cost to the drug trafficking organizations approached $48 million. So these strikes were just the first step in attacking the Taliban’s financial engine, and they will continue."