BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces have conducted several missions in southern Afghanistan over the past week, killing dozens of insurgents in multiple locations.
Coalition forces concluded an operation early Friday in Paktika Province that resulted in the deaths of at least 40 insurgents.
The mission included close air support and ground operations with the purpose of capturing or killing top insurgent leaders.
The engagement was part of Operation Mountain Thrust, a large-scale effort by Afghan national security forces and the coalition to defeat extremist forces in southern Afghanistan.
The Paktika Province mission began early June 14 with an air strike targeting terrorists at a remote, mountainous stronghold, several kilometers from the village of Orgun-e.
Coalition ground forces subsequently moved in after the air strike to conduct a thorough site investigation, coming under fire and encountering numerous well-fortified and concealed fighting positions manned by aggressive fighters.
Coalition forces destroyed remaining enemy elements, including several terrorist fighting positions, over the next 24 hours, capturing one enemy who was wounded in the fighting. The one injured fighter was evacuated and treated by coalition forces.
One coalition member was wounded during the initial insertion of ground forces. Coalition forces at the location estimate at least 40 enemy fighters were killed during the fighting.
"Our efforts will enable progress in areas dominated by extremists who are standing in the way of security, economic and future progress and against those who intimidate and threaten the people of Afghanistan," said Maj. Eric Zenk, spokesman for Task Force Spartan.
On Friday, coalition forces defeated a large group of extremists in western Uruzgan Province, officials reported.
Coalition forces engaged the enemy in a compound, killing an estimated 40 insurgents while they were meeting at a known enemy camp within the Khod Valley, Shaheed Hasas District.
There were no injuries to civilians observed during the operation.
"Coalition forces tracked the development of this meeting until there were more than 50 extremists gathered before attacking the compound," said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, Combined Joint Task Force-76 spokesman. "The compound was severely damaged, and we anticipate most of those present were killed."
Taliban extremists included members of an improvised explosive device cell, financiers and area leaders responsible for launching numerous attacks against Afghan civilians and the Afghan National Army to undermine the Afghan government's ability to provide security and services in Uruzgan.
"Coalition forces have delivered a quick and severe blow to the enemy today," Fitzpatrick said. "With our Afghan allies, we will continue offensive operations in known enemy safe havens to disrupt or destroy these insurgent groups and restore safety and security to the region."
In other Mountain Thrust action Friday, Afghan National Army and coalition forces conducted a raid on a known Taliban compound northeast of Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province.
Elements of 3rd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th ANA Corps, and coalition members raided a compound within the Baluchi Village, killing five Taliban insurgents.
There were no civilians or ANA members injured during the raid. One U.S. member was wounded and taken to a nearby treatment facility and was listed in stable condition.
A search of the compound uncovered about eight pounds of opium. Coalition forces do not have a direct role in counternarcotics, but are authorized to seize illegal drugs and detain traffickers to be turned over to Afghan authorities. The narcotics' seizure was a byproduct of the raid on a known insurgent compound.
The compound had been used as a meeting place and sanctuary for Taliban insurgents to plan and conduct operations against local Afghans, government officials and coalition forces.
Coalition forces killed two enemy fighters and captured five others Sunday in Afghanistan's Zabul Province.
"We're going to continue putting heavy pressure on insurgent sanctuaries and known areas of operation in order to rid this country of those who seek only to destroy and prevent progress," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-76.
"These offensive operations provide the foundation for follow-on operations to strengthen good governance in the region, improve security and enable reconstruction and economic development," he said.
In addition to disrupting enemy operations, Mountain Thrust will help to set conditions for NATO's International Security Assistance Force to take responsibility for southern Afghanistan later this summer, officials said.
Meanwhile, Afghan and coalition forces continued their assault Monday on insurgents in northern Helmand Province, killing five insurgents and a possible Taliban leader.
Afghan and coalition forces received information about a known Taliban safe-house located in the village of Emam Rabat, Musa Qaleh District, where the coalition engaged and killed extremists while they met near a river. No injuries to civilians, Afghan or coalition members were reported during the operation.
One of the insurgents killed is believed to be responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the Musa Qaleh District as well as involvement in weapons and narcotics trafficking.
"Our intense and deadly pursuit of Taliban extremists hiding in southern Afghanistan will continue," Fitzpatrick said. "The extremists have two options: reconcile with the government of Afghanistan or face the consequences."
(From Combined Forces Command – Afghanistan news releases.)