Afghan security forces claim to have cut strategic Taliban route

Afghan security forces stands next to Taliban militants as they are to the media in Ghazni province on April 14, 2018. Afghan security forces arrested five Taliban militants during an operation in Ghazni province, officials said. (AFP)
Updated 19 April 2018

Afghan security forces claim to have cut strategic Taliban route

  • Officials say supply line from Pakistan was frequented by militants who crossed into southeast provinces.
  • The Enzergai Kando supply route was used by the Taliban to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

KABUL: The Afghan government said on Wednesday that the seizure of a major Taliban arms supply line in Paktia province will contribute to a significant drop in violence in the country’s southeast region.
Military officials earlier confirmed on Tuesday that security forces cut off a vital Taliban supply line running through the rugged Dand-e-Pathan district of Paktia near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border known as the Durand Line.
The supply route, called Enzergai Kando, was used by the Taliban to transport logistics and weapons for conducting attacks in neighboring provinces, including areas near Kabul, the officials said.
“This was a very important, strategic supply line for the terrorists,” Gen. Mohammed Radmanesh, Defense Ministry spokesman in Kabul, told Arab News.
Security forces claim to have flushed out the Taliban from the area after an overnight military offensive.
“We now have a presence there and will build permanent checkposts on various parts of the route. This was a route used by the Taliban for years for transporting arms inside Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Shour Gul Pathan, commander of Afghanistan’s 203 Thunder Army Corps, while talking to Arab News by phone from the area.
The Taliban used this strategic route to reach deep into the Khost, Logar and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan and launch attacks. New border checkposts are likely to control the cross-border attacks as security forces plan to expand their presence in the area.
“The future plan of 203 Thunder Army Corps is to establish border checkpoints in areas including Khowjkaram, Enzergai Kando and Nari Kando,” Brig. Gen. Shour Gul said.
The seizure of the route came after days of operations by Afghan troops in the region, he said, adding that the militants had suffered heavy losses as a result.
The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment.
The development comes after weekend clashes between Pakistani and Afghan security forces along the disputed border areas, including Dand-e-Pathan. At least three Pakistani forces and two civilians were killed in an exchange of fire that ended with both sides agreeing to a cease-fire.
The Afghan government has long maintained that the Taliban enjoy safe havens and support in Pakistan but Islamabad denies the allegations.
Taliban militants, overthrown in a US-led invasion in late 2001, are active in many parts of Afghanistan.
Earlier on Wednesday, the group claimed to have killed a key border commander of the Afghan security forces in an explosion in the southern city of Kandahar. Officials confirmed that Col. Janan Mama, along with several bodyguards, died as a result of a magnet bomb attached to his vehicle.

Uncertainty deepens over US presence at Incirlik air base

Updated 1 min 11 sec ago

Uncertainty deepens over US presence at Incirlik air base

  • Pompeo’s second visit to Greece seen as shift away from Turkey
  • Greek PM: Erdogan’s ‘unnecessarily extreme rhetoric’ is stoking tensions

NEW YORK: Expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams has found a new home in Souda Bay in the Greek island of Crete, where it will be based.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed in Athens plans to relocate key US military assets from Incirlik air base in Turkey to Greece. 

Adding to the growing uncertainty about the future of the US presence at Incirlik, Ron Jonson, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee for Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, said: “We don’t know what will happen to Incirlik. We hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst.”

The American-Turkish relationship soured when Ankara announced plans to purchase the sophisticated Russian S-400 defense system despite vehement objections from the US and other NATO allies.

Pompeo’s visit comes as an energy dispute in the eastern Mediterranean continues to rage between Greece and Turkey, two NATO allies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has on multiple occasions threatened to kick the US out of Incirlik.

Pompeo’s visit signals the US resolve to reduce its dependence on Turkey. He hailed Greece as a “pillar for stability and prosperity,” and said the country has become one of the strongest US military partners in Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the American expeditionary ship is “symbolic of a defense partnership that will continue to expand and to grow.” He said Erdogan’s “unnecessarily extreme rhetoric” is stoking tensions.

Greece and the US are together “guarantors of stability,” Mitsotakis said, adding that his country is ready for further American investments. “The sky is the limit regarding what we can achieve together.”