[A-List] Afghanistan: the blowback continues
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Sun Mar 10 23:11:43 MST 2002
British special forces drafted in for final push
IAN BRUCE and CAMERON SIMPSON
The Herald, 11 March 2002
BRITISH special forces have been committed to
the battle around Shah-e-Kot as the struggle for
mountaintop bunkers manned by al Qaeda
fighters enters its second week amid blizzards
and gale-force winds.
The men of the SAS and its Royal Marines'
counterpart, the SBS, have been drafted in to
help with the final push against diehard
mujahideen dug in among the 10,000ft crags
south-east of Gardez.
More than 200 Royal Marines from the
Arbroath-based 45 Commando on board the
assault ship HMS Ocean off the Pakistani coast
are also on alert to join Operation Anaconda
The Royal Marines train in Norway for mountain
and Arctic warfare, and would be a useful
addition to forces fighting in freezing
temperatures at high altitude.
The US has already deployed hundreds of
soldiers from its own 10th Mountain division.
The UK special forces in Afghanistan had been
preparing for new missions elsewhere in the
country, widely believed to involve the hunt for
Mullah Mohammed Omar, the fugitive Taliban
leader, and had initially been excluded from the
But US commanders badly underestimated the
strength and resolve of the al Qaeda and
Taliban troops, and have now had to call for
allied reinforcements as the weather hampers
bomber and helicopter operations.
More than 200 Australian, Norwegian, French,
Danish and German commandos are already
engaged in either direct combat missions or in
support of them by evacuating casualties and
bringing up food and ammunition.
The US forces have suffered eight deaths and
more than 40 have been wounded in the battle
so far. At least two Chinook transport
helicopters have been destroyed and five
Apache gunships have been damaged by
Between 600 and 750 al Qaeda fighters have
been killed so far - more than three times the
original US estimate for the entire enemy force -
and up to 300 are still holding out.
Hamid Karzai, Afghan interim leader, said
yesterday that Zahir Shah, the frail 87-year-old
former king, would return home in a few days
and had an "important role" in the country.
Zahir Shah is seen by many in the international
community as a symbolic figure vital to
Afghanistan's future, as the war-torn country
attempts the transition from the hardline Islamic
rule of the now vanquished Taliban to
full article at:
Mercuria Business School
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
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