All Your Al Qaeda Caves Are Belong To Us


Pakistan Seizes Insurgent Stronghold on Afghan Border

Pakistani forces have seized a key al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold along the border with Afghanistan that once served as a hideout for Ayman al Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama bin Laden.

The capture of Damadola, a district in the Bajaur tribal region, is a major success in Pakistan’s counterinsurgency campaign. The area had long been dominated by insurgents operating on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Pakistani forces seized the scenic district late last month, after several days of fierce fighting that Pakistan said left more than 75 foreign and local militants dead. Pakistan’s military took reporters to the site, which is surrounded by snow-capped mountains less than five kilometers from the Afghan border, for the first time Tuesday.

“It was the main hub of militancy where al Qaeda operatives had moved freely,” said Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, the regional commander.

A complex of caves and fortified compounds made it more difficult for the Pakistani forces to dislodge the insurgents.

“They had occupied the ridges. There were 156 caves designed as a defensive complex,” said Gen. Khan, who is head of the Frontier Corps responsible for Pakistan’s counterinsurgency campaign in the region.

Gen. Khan said his forces have cleared the area to the Afghan border and that the campaign against the insurgents there was in its final stage. He said the development would help the U.S.-led troops fighting the insurgents across the border.

Tribesmen in the area have formed militias to defend their villages and have vowed to to back the military in fighting the militants. “We will not let the Taliban to return to our villages,” said Sultan Khan, a local farmer.

The Pakistani army first mounted an operation in Bajaur in August 2008 and claimed victory in February 2009, but violence resumed when the army’s focus switched to Pakistani Taliban fighters in the northwestern valley of Swat and the border region of South Waziristan.

It took almost 18 months for the military to fully dislodge the insurgents. But the army’s hold remains tentative, with top insurgent commanders escaping to surrounding areas. Damadola is a strategically important region that offers access to Afghanistan, Pakistan’s northern district of Chitral, the main highway to China and to Swat.

See also:
Pakistan’s Army takes control of al-Qaeda cave network on Afghan border
Al Qaeda’s Pakistan Lair Captured
Pakistan seizes Taliban and Al Qaeda cave network
Pakistan ‘takes over’ Taliban base
Offensive gives Pakistani government control of Taliban cave, tunnel complex
Pakistan finds secret al-Qaeda and Taliban underground cave complex
Large Network Of 156 Taliban Caves Found In Pakistan
Taliban network of 156 caves discovered in Pakistan mountains
Taliban stronghold in Bajaur falls, Pak forces plan Khyber offensive
Army takes control of Bajaur Agency
Forces regain control of Bajaur
Troops seize Damadola for first time
Pakistan takes key al-Qaida stronghold
Troops secure Bajaur
Security forces declare final victory in Bajaur

Way to go Pakistan for capturing a key piece of al Qaeda and Taliban real estate!

/too bad the previous owners weren’t home at the time

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