Pakistan Finally Launches Major Offensive Against The Taliban In The Difficult Terrain Of Waziristan

by Daniel Russ on October 17, 2009

Azzar MBT, An Upgraded Chinese T-59

Azzar MBT, An Upgraded Chinese T-59

Well, it took them long enough. Today the Pakistani Army has launched a major offensive against the Taliban in Waziristan province. Over the last few months, Taliban operatives effectively attacked Pakistani Army patrols with remote controlled IEDs and company sized assaults. Under pressure from Obama, the Pakistanis have finally sent out two divisions againstb a similar sized group. The differences being the weaponry, (advantage Pakistan) the landscape (advantage Taliban) and motivation (have to give the advantage to the Taliban. The Pakistanis have a large army but they are unproven and seem even timid about this exercise-we shall see).

“The fighting in South Waziristan is fierce and it is intense. Local administration officials say the Taliban are resisting fiercely as troops try to push into their territory.

Dozens of casualties have taken place, they say, and both sides are using heavy weapons.

Meanwhile locals from South Waziristan are facing great difficulty in leaving the area. All roads have been blocked by the military which is using them to transport ammunition and arms into the heart of the battle.

The transport and communication network has been effectively crippled. The casualties are now expected to rise as the terrain gets difficult for ground troops to operate in against the battle-hardened Taliban.

Pakistan’s top army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas confirmed that a fully-fledged assault had begun and said that an offensive could last up to two months.

“The objective is to clear this terrorist organisation from the area, who has taken over the area, turned these state institutions, organisations out and has taken the entire population hostage,” he told the BBC.

He added that intense fighting was expected during the course of the operation.

Dozens of casualties have already been reported by local officials as both sides used heavy weapons.

The bodies of three Pakistan soldiers were taken to the northern town of Razmak. There have also been unconfirmed reports of militant deaths.

Nearly all communications in the region were down after the Taliban destroyed a telecommunications tower at Tiarza, local officials said.

Reports from the area are sketchy as it is difficult and dangerous for foreign or Pakistani journalists to operate inside South Waziristan.

Air attack

Aerial bombardments in the the Makeen area, a stronghold of the Mehsud tribe and a key army target, were also reported by local officials and witnesses.

One resident of Makeen town described the onset of fighting.

“We heard the sounds of planes and helicopters early Saturday. Then we heard blasts. We are also hearing gunshots and it seems the army is exchanging fire with Taliban,” Ajmal Khan told the Associated Press news agency by telephone.

….

FORCES IN WAZIRISTAN

  • Pakistan army: Two divisions totalling 28,000 soldiers
  • Frontier Corp: Paramilitary forces from tribal areas likely to support army
  • Taliban militants: Estimated between 10,000 and 20,000
  • Uzbek fighters supporting Taliban: Estimates widely vary between 500-5,000

In the last few days, fighter jets have hammered the mountainous enclave, where the Pakistani Taliban now led by Hakimullah Mehsud keep their operations center, according to civilians in Wana who had been reached by telephone at the time.

Most of the areas where the army is headed are 6,000 feet to 7,000 feet high. In three previous operations against the Taliban in the same area — in 2004, in 2005 and again in early 2008 — the army sued for peace.”

Source: BBC

Not Unlike Rednecks In Pickup Trucks, The Taliban On Patrol

Not Unlike Rednecks In Pickup Trucks, The Taliban On Patrol

“About 28,000 soldiers were involved in the operation in South Waziristan and were set to face about 10,000 militants, army officials said. About 1,500 particularly tough Uzbek fighters were at the core of the Taliban in the mountainous enclave, they said.

The proportion of soldiers to militants did not appear to be very high, some military specialists said, noting that in the Swat Valley in May, the Pakistani Army fielded more than 30,000 soldiers against a similar number of less experienced militants.

The army expected the South Waziristan operation to last about two months, a period that stretches into the winter season there, a Pakistani official who has been briefed by the military said.”

Source: NYT

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