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Afghan forces conduct over 100 special operations missions in May

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Afghan forces, with support from coalition troops, conducted more than 100 special operations in May, resulting in the capture or elimination of dozens of high-level al-Qaida, Taliban and insurgent leaders.

The majority of these operations were conducted by the Afghan Special Operations Unit, the Afghan equivalent of United States special operations forces. The unit is comprised of highly-qualified Afghan soldiers from other security forces throughout the country, including the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

Afghan special operations soldiers undergo intensive training over several months at an undisclosed base in Afghanistan. The unit receives training in combat, communications, marksmanship and medicine from many of the same instructors that teach U.S. special operations forces.

“We are very impressed with the continuing success of our Afghan forces,” said the commander of the Afghan Special Operations Unit. “We are working every day to defeat the insurgency and bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan.”

Since December 2011, when the Afghan Special Operations Unit began taking part in all special operations, enemy-initiated attacks have dropped more than sixteen percent across Afghanistan compared to the same period a year ago.

All special operations are approved by the Afghan Operational Coordination Group and conducted in accordance with Afghan laws, as defined in the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Of note are the following operations:

On May 3, the Afghan Special Operations Unit, with coalition support, captured Abdullah, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader, during an operation in Imam Sahib district, Kunduz province.

Abdullah was planning simultaneous suicide operations across several provinces as part of an imminent high-profile attack.

Abduallah was also responsible for attempting to form an insurgent cell in the Imam Sahib district and acquiring weapons for future attacks. In addition, he was involved in an assassination plot to kill a senior Afghan government official.

Following the previous detention of other high-level IMU commanders, Abdullah was relied upon by the senior IMU leader in Afghanistan to execute critical orders and provide information about IMU’s operational plans.

Abdullah’s capture occurred days before his expected departure to Pakistan.

On May 23, Afghan and coalition forces conducted a precision airstrike killing Jamil ur Rahman, the Taliban deputy shadow governor for Nuristan province, in Waygal district, Nuristan. One additional Taliban commander was also killed in the strike.

Jamil ur Rahman provided leadership and support to al-Qaida and Taliban forces throughout Nuristan and Kunar. He also housed Arab al-Qaida members operating in eastern Afghanistan and coordinated insurgent activities including the January 2012 kidnapping of an Afghan peace council official.

Jamil ur Rahman organized and hosted a number of meetings with senior Taliban and al-Qaida commanders in attempts to execute suicide and improvised explosive device attacks throughout the region.

The Nuristan Taliban shadow governor relied heavily upon Jamil ur Rahman to provide support and sanctuary to al-Qaida fighters operating in the area.

The operation was one of two that resulted in the deaths of two senior al-Qaida supporters within a week. The other was Saudi al-Qaida commander Sakhr al-Taifi, the second highest al-Qaida leader in Afghanistan. Sakhr al-Taifi was killed following an Afghan and coalition airstrike on May 27.

On May 31, the Afghan Special Operations Unit, with support from coalition forces, captured the Taliban commander for Panjwa’i district, Kandahar province.

The commander had just returned to Panjwa’i from Pakistan with approximately 30 insurgent fighters for the Taliban’s spring offensive.

As a senior district commander, he was the primary deputy for the Taliban commander of Kandahar province. He oversaw Taliban commanders for other districts and commanded a number of insurgents and suicide bombers for attacks throughout the region.

In addition, he was a renowned explosives expert and directed roadside bombings, suicide attacks and other operations against Afghan and coalition forces throughout Kandahar.

Article by ISAF HQ Public Affairs