8 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-160

Operation Achilles making progress

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Over the last 24 hours, ISAF forces consisting of the British 45 Commando Royal Marines, supported by Afghan National Army troops, have successfully engaged Taliban extremist strongholds as well as compounds being used by the enemy as arms and ammunition storage facilities in the general area of Garmsir.

During the conduct of this operation, Taliban extremists chose to withdraw to a location known to be a mosque. ISAF forces ceased fire on the Taliban until the enemy opened fire from the mosque. At that time, ISAF troops re-engaged the enemy.

Within the same period of time, other Taliban extremists sought refuge by moving into homes and locations where local civilians were thought to reside. In order to avoid collateral damage, ISAF troops did not pursue engaging with those forces. “This is not the first time Taliban extremists have used civilians as human shields,” said Lt Col Stephane Grenier, spokesman for ISAF Regional Command South.

The U.S. 1st Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment has continued to make progress towards their objectives in the Kandahar-Helmand border area while conducting mine clearing and Improvised Explosive Device removal operations.

Elements of the Royal Canadian Regiment have completed their deployment into the Maywand District and have carried out Shuras to reassure the Elders of their intentions and have started to act as a screening force to block the movement of Taliban extremists.

Operation ACHILLES was launched on 6 March 2007 by ISAF forces and Afghan National Army forces in order to stabilize the Northern Helmand province to allow the Government of Afghanistan to begin the reconstruction and development of this part of the country.

Task Force Helmand and Afghan forces attack southern insurgent gateway

ISAF troops of Task Force (TF) Helmand and Afghan troops conducted a supporting operation last night as part of Operation Achilles to target the Taliban’s southern gateway and to improve security in northern Helmand Province.

About 200 troops from several units, supported by Afghan artillery, took part in an attack on a major Taliban headquarters and stronghold south of Garmsir in southern Helmand.

“This operation helps fix Taliban extremists in the southern area so that reconstruction and development can take place in the north. This will enable us to provide a secure environment in which we can increase economic prosperity and repair major infrastructure to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan.” said TF Helmand spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Rory Bruce.

The attack began late Wednesday night, 7 March, on two large compounds and carried on through the night. An enemy armoury was also destroyed.

“As the TF Helmand ground forces closed in, large numbers of enemy forces were seen going in and out of one building. The building was engaged by precision fires with a direct hit causing a secondary explosion. This suggests it was used as a significant arms and ammunition storage facility,” said Lieutenant Colonel Bruce earlier.

The TF Helmand troops were supported by the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, plus a range of air assets including UK, US and Dutch aircraft.

The area around Garmsir is a known enemy area, where TF Helmand forces and Afghan security forces have recently come under daily small arms fire and mortar attacks.

There were no ISAF or ANA casualties during the operation.

“This operation was a great success. We achieved our objective of disrupting Taliban activity, denying them freedom of movement and destroyed the defensive positions they have routinely used to launch attacks against Afghan National Security Forces,” said Lieutenant Colonel Bruce.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/