U.S. Forces Fire On Taliban In Pakistan

U.S. Forces Fire On Taliban In Pakistan
February 12th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: U.S. Forces Fire On Taliban In Pakistan

U.S. Forces Fire On Taliban In Pakistan
Houston Chronicle
February 12, 2007
Military claims self-defense, says American outposts in Afghanistan are being attacked
By Robert Burns, Associated Press
BAGRAM AIR BASE, AFGHANISTAN Asserting a right to self-defense, American forces in eastern Afghanistan have launched artillery rounds into Pakistan to strike Taliban fighters who attack remote U.S. outposts, the commander of U.S. forces in the region said Sunday.
The skirmishes are politically sensitive because Pakistan's government, regarded by the Bush administration as an important ally against Islamic extremists, has denied that it allows U.S. forces to strike inside its territory.
The use of the largely ungoverned Waziristan area of Pakistan as a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters has become a greater irritant between Washington and Islamabad since Pakistan put in place a peace agreement there in September that was intended to stop cross-border incursions.
Army Col. John W. Nicholson, commander of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, said that rather than halt such incursions, the peace deal has led to a substantial increase.
'Clarification' sought
Pakistani border forces, which had been active in stopping Taliban incursions into Afghanistan as recently as last spring, stopped offensive actions against them once the peace deal took effect, he said.
"That did relax some of the pressure on the enemy," Nicholson said.
The Pakistan army's top spokesman said Sunday that coalition forces operating in Afghanistan are not allowed to fire into Pakistani territory, but acknowledged that artillery fire from the coalition had landed inside Pakistan in recent days.
Pakistan also plans to seek "clarification" about Nicholson's comments.
Members of Nicholson's brigade recently were told that instead of going home this month after a yearlong tour, they will stay for an extra four months, until June.
Nicholson told the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard Cody, that this news hit soldiers hard, but that they are now adjusting well. Cody is traveling in Afghanistan.
Spring offensive
The brigade of about 3,500 soldiers is being kept in Afghanistan because senior commanders decided they needed more forces to deal with an anticipated Taliban offensive this spring. The offensive is expected to focus not only on eastern Afghanistan but also the south, where the traditional Taliban stronghold of Kandahar is seen as a prized target. NATO forces operate in that area.
Nicholson described the fighting along the border, particularly in Afghanistan's Paktika and Khost provinces, as intense. In some cases, he said, the Taliban have crossed the border at night, using wire cutters to breach the perimeter of small U.S. outposts, "trying to get hand grenades into our bunkers."
"I mean we're talking World War I type of stuff," Nicholson said.
When Taliban forces on the Pakistan side of the border fire on U.S. outposts on the Afghan side, the Americans are equipped to quickly pinpoint the launch location using radar and then strike back with artillery, he said.

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