2 Al Qaeda training sites dismantled in Kandahar
KABUL (Pajhwok): US and Afghan forces dismantled two Al Qaeda training sites during a major air and ground operation in southern Kandahar province, the coalition said on Tuesday.
The operation that was launched on Oct 7 after months of intelligence gathering and planning wrapped up on Sunday, the US forces said in a statement.
The US conducted 63 precision airstrikes while Afghan forces engaged in several battles on the ground against Al Qaeda networks at two related sites.
“This is one of the largest joint ground-assault operations we have ever conducted in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, a US spokesperson in Afghanistan.
“We struck a major al-Qaeda sanctuary in the center of the Taliban’s historic heartland. This significant operation is a testament to the professionalism and expertise of our Afghan partners and demonstrates the growing capability of the Afghan security forces.”
The assault team was comprised of more than 200 Afghan and US servicemembers who navigated through difficult terrain and cleared two targeted areas. The first site, a well-established training camp, spanned approximately one square mile. The second site covered nearly 30 square miles.
“The goal of the operation was to degrade the terrorist network,” Shoffner said. “Aside from validating the accuracy of our intelligence, we were able to seize a large amount of data and weapons. Based on the digital media equipment collected from the site, it also appears that this was the location of a large media cell.”
Initial reports state that heavy weapons, IED-making material and other valuable intelligence data including foreign passports, laptops and associated IT media, digital cameras and cards, documents, and mobile phones were recovered.
Additionally, forces seized anti-aircraft weapons; rocket-propelled grenade systems with associated hardware and warheads; machine guns, pistols, rifles and ammunition.
“The enormous success of this operation validates our ongoing campaign,” said Gen. John F. Campbell, Commander for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“Working with, by, and through our Afghan partners, we’re building their capabilities while we fight our common enemies,” he said. “That’s why our strategic partnership here is so important. We continue to protect our fellow Americans at home by fighting Al Qaeda here.”
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