The Taliban killed 15 Afghan policemen in an ambush in Farah province. Two senior security officials, including the deputy intelligence chief for the western province, were killed during the attack.
An unknown number of Taliban fighters ambushed a police delegation yesterday as it was inspecting security outposts on the Herat-Kandahar highway, a segment of the Ring Road, Afghanistan’s major roadway, Pajhwok Afghan News reported. The attack took place in an area between the districts of Gulistan and Balu Barak.
Both Farah’s deputy intelligence chief for the National Intelligence Directorate, whom the Taliban described as “a notorious brutal commander and close aid of foreign invaders,” and the chief of the highway police from Kandahar province are reported to have been killed in the attack. The Taliban also claimed on Voice of Jihad that a “deputy anti-terrorism chief” was among the 15 security officials killed in the ambush. Two Taliban fighters are said to have been killed during the fighting. Four police pickup trucks and an armored vehicle were also destroyed in the attack.
The Taliban launched a similar attack in the Gulistan district in March 2012. In that attack, a Taliban force estimated at between 70 to 80 fighters ambushed a NATO supply column on the highway. The attack resulted in the deaths of seven Afghan security guards, two soldiers, and dozens of Taliban fighters.
Yesterday’s attack in Farah province highlights the growing insecurity along the Ring Road in western Afghanistan. Just two days ago, in the Balu Barak district, a Taliban force ambushed a convoy of tankers carrying fuel destined for NATO forces. Six truck drivers were killed and 40 fuel trucks were destroyed or badly damaged.
And on Aug. 19, the Taliban clashed with the Afghan Public Protection Force along the Ring Road in Gulistan. Afghan officials claimed that 72 Taliban fighters and 11 AFFP officers were killed during the fighting, but the Taliban denied taking such heavy losses.
Farah province serves as a base for al Qaeda
Farah province is a known haven for al Qaeda and allied terror groups, and is a main transit point for foreign fighters and Iranian aid flowing into Afghanistan. The presence of al Qaeda cells has been detected in the districts of Bakwah, Balu Barak, Farah, Gulistan, and Pusht-e Rod; or five of Farah’s 11 districts.
Iran’s Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, has backed al Qaeda and the Taliban’s operations in western Afghanistan, according to the International Security Assistance Force as well as the US government. The Qods Force has tasked the Ansar Corps, a subcommand, with aiding the Taliban and other terror groups in Afghanistan. Based in Mashad in northeastern Iran, the Ansar Corps operates much like the Ramazan Corps, which supports and directs Shia terror groups in Iraq [see LWJ report, Iranian Qods Force commanders linked to Taliban: US Treasury, for more information on the Ansar Corps and Iran’s support for the Taliban].
ISAF targeted Iranian-supported Taliban commanders in at least 14 raids in the western provinces of Farah, Nimroz, Herat, and Ghor between June 2009 and February 2011, according to Coalition press releases compiled by The Long War Journal.
In early February 2011, ISAF inexplicably stopped reporting on raids against Iranian-supported Taliban and al Qaeda commanders. When The Long War Journal inquired about the sudden halt in reports on Qods Force-linked commanders in the Afghan west, ISAF claimed it does not discuss issues related to Iran.
“As policy, IJC [ISAF Joint Command] does not discuss Iran,” Lieutenant Commander Katie Kendrick, an ISAF Public Affairs Officer, told The Long War Journal in February 2011, despite the fact that ISAF had indeed mentioned the Qods Force in its press releases as well as in followup inquiries. Further inquiries to ISAF about the sudden change in policy on discussing Iran’s links to terror activities in Afghanistan have gone unanswered.