Major allied offensive planned on Musa Qala

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  1. Afghanistan: Major allied offensive planned on Musa Qala

    Rediff News Bureau | December 06, 2007 12:23 IST

    A major allied offensive is reportedly being planned on the Musa Qala area of Afghanistan, to counter the resurgent Taliban.

    Reports across the British media speak of NATO aircraft dropping leaflets warning the locals of the imminent assault, and advising them to get out of the way.

    Musa Qala, published reports say, holds enormous symbolic value for the Taliban -- it is, Tom Coghlan points out in The Independent, the only urban center in Taliban hands, and has remained under control of the rebel force for close to a year now.

    Significantly, reports indicate that for the first time, the nascent Afghan national army will lead the assault, working in tandem with the British army.

    The two forces have been pushing forward from its bases in Sangin, and are now reported to be two miles outside Musa Qala.

    Taliban commanders told Coghlan over satellite telephone that their defensive preparations are in place; the approaches to the town are mined and anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery have been strategically positioned, they are reported to have said, and in an early skirmish, they claim to have captured and destroyed a British tank.

    The commanders quoted, however, would not commit to whether the Taliban would make a fight for the town, or opt for strategic retreat into the surrounding mountains -- a preferred Taliban tactic, putting the onus of holding the town on the troops, while mounting guerilla attacks from their mountain hideouts.

    The Taliban Web site has countered the leaflets and other allied propaganda with its own rejoinder. 'It is a known fact that wherever they have gone with all their power, their strength has melted, their equipment has been destroyed, their skulls have remained [on the battlefield], and they have left the battlefield defeated and broken,' the Web site is quoted as sayting.

    Published reports meanwhile say the attack could take place sometime in the next 48 hours.
    MORE NEWS ON THE AFGHAN THREAD PAGE 334
     
  2. Nothing like giving them advance warning?!
     
  3. We'll capture it then abandon it… it's the way of the war in Afghanistan

    Theirs today, ours tomorrow, theirs the day after…
     
  4. Don't they have to IOT prevent collateral damage?

    Surely the strategic disadvantages are outweighed by the fact that the Afghan civilians will be out of the way thereby preventing a hearts and minds own goal.
     
  5. Goose Green?
     
  6. This is the Daily Telegraphs take on it.
    Allies prepare to seize Taliban stronghold
    By Tom Coghlan, Kabul Correspondent
    Last Updated: 3:01am GMT 06/12/2007

    A key Taliban-held town in southern Afghanistan is expected to fall to British troops and the national army within a matter of days.

    Residents report that Nato aircraft have dropped leaflets warning of an imminent assault on Musa Qala in the north of Helmand province.

    The town is of huge symbolic value to the Taliban. It has been in its hands for 10 months and is the only urban centre that the Islamist group has been able to take and hold.

    Western sources have told The Daily Telegraph that it is planned that Afghan forces will lead the assault - the first time that the fledgling national army has undertaken an operation on such a scale.

    After advancing from the base at Sangin, the British and Afghan troops are now said to be just two miles from the town. Local people have now begun to flee into the surrounding desert.

    "Anything could happen, it is in God's hands," said a member of the tribal council of the town, who begged not to be named for fear of reprisals.

    The air-dropped leaflets gave warning that the Taliban would be pursued from the area and urged the tribal leaders in Musa Qala to eject the insurgents themselves.

    Contacted by satellite telephone, Taliban commanders stated that they had already mined routes to the town, which is about the size of Cambridge. They also claimed to have captured and destroyed a British tank.

    "I have 300 Mujahideen with me," said Mullah Ahmad Muslim. "We have brought our best artillery. We have ZSU anti-aircraft guns in place to attack the helicopters."

    But when asked whether the Taliban would stand and fight in Musa Qala, he did not rule out the possibility of a withdrawal into the Taliban-held mountains to the north. "The Mujahideen are ready to fight. It is hard to say whether we will make a tactical withdrawal. We will see."

    One town resident said that Mullah Tor Jan, the overall Taliban commander in the town, had told local leaders that they would "save the town from destruction" by withdrawing once a "screen" of his fighters to the south of the town was breached by British forces.

    However, on their website, the Taliban issued a blood-curdling rejoinder to the warnings of imminent attack. It read: "Foreign occupiers and their internal mercenaries are once again targeting Musa Qala.

    "They are dropping leaflets from the air calling on the people to leave their homes as the area will be bombed and their homes will be rebuilt in a modern style.

    "It is a known fact that wherever they have gone with all their power, their strength has melted, their equipment has been destroyed, their skulls have remained [on the battlefield], and they have left the battlefield defeated and broken. The Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate are completely confident that the enemy will not be able to advance one step, and with every step their tanks will be set on fire."

    One local tribal leader said: "Everyone knows that the town can be taken, but to keep power there is the key thing.

    "It depends on the skill of the government to make the people trust them.

    "If they are not skilful, then the people will turn to the Taliban."

    A British soldier killed in a roadside bombing near Musa Qala on Tuesday was named last night as Jack Sadler.

    Trooper Sadler, 21, from Devon, was injured along with two others in a vehicle on patrol in Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defence said. All three were evacuated to Camp Bastion, where Trooper Sadler died. The other soldiers' injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

    Trooper Sadler was serving with the Honourable Artillery Company, 4/73 Special Observation Battery, Brigade Reconnaissance Force.
     
  7. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Yep, and they captured it will abandon it when we roll up - as you say, it'll yo-yo back and forth for a while - but, and this is the important bit: There will be a few more dead AQ bods lying around the place every time this happens, and hopefully no casualties on our side.

    The leaflets should be telling the local civilians to evacuate towards our 'lines' so that anyone going the other way our of Musa Qaleh can be pinged and bashed, as well as those that choose to remain. The ones that come to our 'lines' can be checked out with the assictance of the local not-hostile tribal elders and pinged if they are AQ.
     
  8. Didn't we not take it? with the 3 Para Battle group?
     
  9. Loose lips sinking ships and all that.
     
  10. Yes, but then we did this:

    Taken from this site: The Long War Journal
     
  11. Quite:

    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2006/11/the_taliban_return_t.php

    Further south, in Helmand province, the secret deal between the British and pro-Taliban tribal leaders has reached the predictible conclusion. The Times Online reports Musa Qala has now fallen back into the hands of the Taliban. Nafaz Khan, the former chief of police of Musa Qala who fought along with the British of the Royal Irish Regiment, said the negotiations to turn Musa Qala over to 'local tribesmen' was just a ruse. "Those British soldiers were cursing with us when we were all told to leave... They said that they had fought and lost friends to keep the town. And now these tribal elders who are in charge of Musa Qala are the same who gave the Taliban support when they fought against us. The deal was just a clever trick to get the foreign soldiers to go.”
     
  12. This really does not need to be discussed or promulgated further.

    Goose green is about right.
     
  13. Civvies are leaving. Hopefully Kabul take this as their que to try and recreate the Baghdad skyline of 2003.

    A two day bombing campaign is in order.
     
  14. OK. Off you go and tell the world press & media to shut up then. But you may want to reflect upon who is briefing them and why
     
  15. That is a very unfair description. My understanding is that the tribal elders and their locally recruited security forces kept the Taliban out for several months after the British left. The tribal leaders involved were executed by the Taliban when they over ran the place again. Hardly seems like a clever trick.