16 Apr 2007

PR# 2007-311

Operation Achilles - Strikes at heart of Taliban extremists’ leadership

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – ISAF, in joint operations with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), ISAF launched a series of attacks and precision strikes against Taliban extremist in the Northern Helmand this week resulting in the elimination of several key extremist leaders from the ongoing insurgency.

“Striking at the heart of the problem and removing these key leaders has paid off,” stated Major General Ton van Loon, Commander of Regional Command South.  “We fully realize the influence these Taliban extremist leaders have on the population of Southern Afghanistan who have clearly told us they felt like they where hostages in their own communities.  Removing these extremist leaders from the equation allows freedom of choice to young men who are otherwise intimidated and coerced to join the Taliban extremists in the South,” he added.

The Government of Afghanistan continued to live up to its commitment to increase the size of the ANSF by sending over 1000 troops in Northern Helmand, including 300 Afghan National Standby Police.

ANSF troops have also begun the construction of Patrol Bases which they will use as permanent infrastructure in Helmand to conduct their security operations. “This is a significant indicator that ANSF are taking more and more responsibility in the south and that they are making the security of Afghanistan their very own priority,” said Lieutenant Colonel Stephane Grenier, Regional Command South spokesperson. “These troops are extremely dedicated and their presence is instrumental for the long term stability of the region,” he added.

Late in the week, the Commander of ISAF’s Task Force Helmand, Brigadier-General John Lorimer, joined Helmand Provincial Governor Wafa to address over 100 of Sangin’s influential tribal Elders at a Shura in the heart of the Sangin District Centre.

“It would have been almost unthinkable to hold a Shura in Sangin two weeks ago,” said Major General Ton van Loon. “Although we continue to monitor the situation carefully in that region of Helmand, I am satisfied that our efforts are starting to pay off and that the security conditions we intend to set as a result of Achilles are being achieved.”

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/