28 Mar 2007

PR# 2007-240

ISAF refutes claims made by Taliban commander

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – In a story published by Afghan Islamic Press titled “Operation Achilles fails, says Taliban commander” dated 27 March 2007, it was inaccurately reported that the Taliban “had recently achieved anti-aircraft weapons and that they had downed a number of NATO planes.” 

“This Taliban claim is wrong.  The Taliban have not shot down any ISAF aircraft and all NATO aircraft are fully accounted for. The story also reported that the Taliban commander operating in the Sangin area named Koko Agha claimed that NATO troops had low moral and that the Taliban had disabled NATO artillery and infantry.  Although ISAF does not feel it is important to comment on the Taliban’s perception of the morale of our troops, it is important for ISAF to officially correct such claims and refute Taliban lies,” said Col Tom Collins, chief ISAF spokesman.

“We know that the people of Northern Helmand feel trapped and held hostage by Taliban extremists operating in the area,” stated Major General Ton van Loon, Commander of Regional Command South.  “As I stated before, we are taking our time with Operation Achilles as we feel it is extremely important that we limit collateral damage.  We are basically conducting operations to rescue the villagers who are being held hostage by Taliban extremists in the northern Helmand valley. In doing so, it is important for us to do this carefully and to ensure we do not harm innocent victims by acting in a hasty fashion.  Every action we take must be calculated and well planned,” he said.

Operation Achilles was launched on 6 March 2007 to improve security in areas where Taliban extremists, foreign terrorists and narco-traffickers continue to de-stabilize the Government of Afghanistan in an effort to facilitate much-needed reconstruction and development for the Afghan people, Collins said.

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/