Tuesday, September 29

Kunduz falls: "White House down. Office abandoned, all files burned." UPDATED 4X - latest update 9:25 AM EDT


"After entering Kunduz City, Taliban militants, the Haqqani network, and other insurgents misused the opportunity and looted people’s houses and their belongings, the MoD claimed."

"... the [MOD] statement said: “Taliban terrorists who are directed by regional intelligence agencies are fleeing Kunduz city ..." 

By "regional intelligence agencies" the Afghan MoD means Pakistan's ISI.

Quotes from Pajhwok report in 9:00 AM update. 

Associated Press report [emphasis throughout mine]


On the ground, Afghan forces were regrouping to try and take back this city of nearly 300,000 people — the first urban area seized by the Taliban since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that ousted their regime.

The city fell Monday, after hundreds of Taliban gunmen launched a coordinated, multi-pronged attack at several points around the city. After a day of fierce fighting, they managed to overrun government buildings and hoisted their flag in the city square. The fast-moving assault took the military and intelligence authorities by surprise.

A newly-built police headquarters and the prison in Kunduz were already freed from the Taliban and taken back, the [MoD] statement said. That claim could not independently be verified as the city was off limits to media

Residents, reached over the phone by The Associated Press, said sporadic gunfire could still be heard around the city on Tuesday morning. They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.

During the Taliban assault on the city on Monday, the insurgents had freed around 600 inmates — including 144 members of the Taliban — from Kunduz prison, officials said.

In Kabul, the National Security Council was to meet later Tuesday over the fall of Kunduz, a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss government plans.

The International Red Cross said it had evacuated two of its three international staff from Kunduz, flying them to the nearby city of Mazar-I-Sharif. The U.N. office in Kunduz was also evacuated.

The city's fall comes as Ghani marks one year office. The president, who has staked his presidency on pledges of bringing peace to Afghanistan and who seeks to draw the Taliban to peace talks, was to address the nation later Tuesday.

Kunduz is one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Afghanistan, and the surrounding province, also called Kunduz, is one of the country's chief breadbaskets. It lies on a strategic crossroads connecting Afghanistan to Pakistan, China and Central Asia.



UPDATE 9:00 am EDT

Kunduz police HQ, central jail retaken, operation on
By Pajhwok
September 29, 2015 - 11:31 AM [local time]

KABUL/KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): Afghan forces recaptured the police headquarters and the central jail in northern Kunduz province from Taliban militants during a clearing operation launched on Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

The Taliban launched their coordinated attacks from various directions on Kunduz City, the provincial capital, on Sunday night and were able to capture the entire city until late Monday.

The large number of rebels took control of military and civil facilities including the 200-bed civil hospital, the police headquarters, schools, markets and some provincial departments and set free hundreds of inmates from the central jail after capturing it, in what appeared to be the Taliban’s first major victory since 2001.

The Afghan Ministry of Defnece (MoD) in a statement said reinforcements reached Kunduz City this morning and launched operation to retake Kunduz City from Taliban militants.

The statement said the police headquarters and the central jail had been retaken from Taliban’s control.

The rebels on Monday set free hundreds of prisoners from Kunduz central jail after gaining control of it.

The MoD said the enemy was weak and could not put up resistance and security forces were advancing.

The MoD statement said Kunduz City was currently surrounded by security forces and Taliban militants were inflicted heavy casualties during the ongoing operation.

Without giving exact figures, the statement said: “Taliban terrorists who are directed by regional intelligence agencies are fleeing Kunduz city, only some of them are firing from residential buildings at Afghan forces.”

The MoD assured local residents that Afghan forces were taking all possible measures to protect their lives.

After entering Kunduz City, Taliban militants, the Haqqani network, and other insurgents misused the opportunity and looted people’s houses and their belongings, the MoD claimed.

“The capture of Kunduz City by Taliban is just a propaganda achievement for the rebel group, we are sure these terrorists would stay ground against Afghan forces.”

Eyewitnesses had previously said except the airport and Bala Hesar area, all other areas of the city had fallen to the Taliban.

Afghan security forces are currently stationed in Kunduz airport, Bala Hesar and Bagh Sherkat areas.

A separate MoD statement issued on Monday evening said 35 militants had been killed and a number of others injured during clashes with Afghan forces.

However, the Taliban claimed they had captured large areas from government forces and had killed 15 soldiers during the attacks on the city. They also claimed seizing a large amount of weapons and equipment from security forces.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi tweeted early Tuesday that fresh Afghan troops had been sent to northern parts of the city, where an operation to clear Kunduz of Taliban had been initiated.

US-led coalition forces also conducted their first airstrike on Talban targets on the outskirts of Kunduz city in the morning.

The Taliban reportedly also killed some female medics and tribal elders in the city; unverified pictures on social media show the Taliban driving International Committee of the Red Cross vehicles seized in Kunduz.

Afghan Ministry of Public Health spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said: “Our hospitals in Kunduz province have received 172 injured patients and 16 dead bodies so far”.





Afghan forces ready to take Kunduz back from Taliban, official says
By Masoud Popalzai and Holly Yan, CNN
Tue September 29, 2015 - Updated 3:23 AM EDT 


Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) Afghan security forces arrived in Kunduz on Tuesday morning and have started retaking areas of the city from the Taliban, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said.

"A big military operation to clear all Kunduz city is about to start," spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

U.S. forces joined in the military action, launching an airstrike in Kunduz on Tuesday, said Brian Tribus, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The Kunduz prison, a police compound and the neighborhood of Zir Dawra are among the areas Afghan forces have secured, Sediqqi said.
Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police chief, said Taliban insurgents seized the main roundabout in the city and made it to the prison, where they freed more than 500 inmates.

The Taliban also claimed to have seized a 200-bed hospital -- posting photos to social media that they claimed proved their control of the facility.

The Taliban has bolstered its strength north of Kunduz for months and has had its eyes on the city.

Kunduz is the capital of Kunduz province, an affluent area known for its trade ties. The main route to Tajikistan also runs through Kunduz province.

And the release of 500 prisoners by the Taliban makes the security situation in Kunduz even more challenging.



The latest, from Associated Press 2:00 am EDT via The New York Times:
KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. military says it has carried out an airstrike on the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that was captured by the Taliban the previous day.
U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for the U.S. and NATO missions in Afghanistan, says the airstrike early Tuesday was conducted "in order to eliminate a threat to the force."
The city fell Monday with the Taliban overrunning government buildings and hoisting their flag in the city square.
Sarwar Hussaini, a provincial police spokesman, says Afghan forces have launched an operation on several fronts around Kunduz to try and retake the city.
Kunduz is the first city seized by the Taliban since their regime was overthrown in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The city's fall comes as President Ashraf Ghani marks one year office.

We have come full circle in  Afghanistan. 

In my view the onslaught in the north of Afghanistan this year and the taking of Kunduz yesterday is Pakistan's military saying to Ghani that his government had better get off its high horse and negotiate with a Pakistan-led team of Taliban on how to carve up the country. That suits the U.S. Department of State and their masters just fine.  

I have nothing else to say because I've already said it many times before, and hurling recriminations at my government and NATO won't do a bit of good. 

Here's the Reuters report I quoted in the header, timestamped 10:33a,m IST Tuesday Sept. 29.  And here is a report from Long War Journal, from yesterday, on the Kunduz situation from Long War Journal. 

And I'd suggest you listen to Bill Roggio and Thomas Josceyln's weekly report Monday night for the John Batchelor Show; it's the first two segments in the podcast. They discuss both Afghanistan and Syria.  

By the way, John mentioned that Tom will be giving testimony tomorrow to a congressional committee on the security situations.  It's a little late in the day for Congress to be soliciting the input of Long War Journal.

Wait, I think I will scare up one more observation:  "For me, the Taliban is on the inside the building."

In a heated and dramatic congressional hearing today, witnesses who served with the U.S. diplomatic corps in Libya and pushed for a stronger security presence repeatedly faulted the State Department for standing in their way - one even referring to the State Department officials he described as obstructionist as if they were Taliban terrorists.
The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents.
"His response to that was, 'You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.' And my response to him - his name was Jim - 'Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.
And I added ... 'For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.'"
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, the commander of a Security Support Team (SST) sent home in August - against his wishes and, he says, the wishes of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens - said "we were fighting a losing battle. We couldn't even keep what we had."
Nordstrom agreed, saying, "it was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is again, 'How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?'"
In Afghanistan, we have the answer.


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