American forces are reportedly massing on Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan in preparation for a possible offensive against a Taliban faction operating from safe havens in Pakistan’s North Waziristan.
The U.S. buildup includes helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and hundreds of American and Afghan troops, The Telegraph
reports. The likely target: the feared Haqqani Network.
Local officials in Pakistan warn that the nation’s armed forces would resist any incursion across the border by American forces. But military sources in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and Afghan officials have suggested the build-up is part of a coordinated operation.
U.S.-led forces have already launched a new offensive in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan against the Haqqani Network, according to press reports on Wednesday.
The Haqqani Network has caused the deaths of more than 1,100 Afghan civilians and coalition troops. In June, Haqqani deployed nine suicide bombers in a brazen attack at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul. The attackers, who were killed, communicated by phone during the assault with Badruddin Haqqani, a leader of the network, who was across the border in Pakistan, the Washington Times reported.
Last month, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service of plotting an attack on the American embassy in Kabul with Haqqani fighters, and claimed the network is a “veritable arm” of the ISI. Pakistan has resisted U.S. pressure to attack Haqqani Network fighters operating from Pakistan.
“But the massing of American troops on the Afghan border appears to suggest some understanding may have been reached,” the Telegraph observed.
Pakistan military sources confirmed that the U.S. informed Islamabad about the planned built-up of forces, without disclosing the number of troops that would be involved.
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