Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Taliban 'blooding ground'

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    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Taliban 'blooding ground'

    Taliban 'blooding ground': Fly over. ( GARMSER to Iran to China see below )

    On the frontline in Taliban 'blooding ground'

    by Bronwen Roberts Sun Dec 2, 1:57 AM ET

    GARMSER, Afghanistan (AFP) - "This land belongs to terrorists," says a district intelligence chief, referring to the compounds and trenches just south of the main road that leads into the small Afghan town of Garmser.

    The Taliban, and the smugglers who supply them, also have the run of the stretch of desert 200 kilometres (120 miles) further south to the Pakistan border.

    Authorities have control just north of this road -- a frontline that cuts through the town in the southern province of Helmand.

    There is a bazaar deserted since the Taliban stormed in nearly 18 months ago, a base of the International Security Assistance Force that drove the rebels out, some empty mudbrick compounds and ruined buildings.

    But it is south that the problem lies.

    ISAF has called Garmser district the "Taliban gateway to Helmand," Afghanistan's largest province and biggest producer of the opium that gives the world heroin and the Taliban some income.

    Taliban recruits from Pakistan cross over at Baram Shah, an ethnic Baluch-controlled drugs bazaar on the border, said the district intelligence chief, Mir Hamza.

    Then they move up to Garmser for "blooding", as one British soldier put it.

    "They are collected here into different regiments and then go to different places like Gereshk and Naw Zad," the intelligence chief said, naming other insurgency hotspots in Helmand.

    The fighters are from Pakistan but the weapons and ammunition come up via Iran, sometimes originating in China, he said.

    Garmser "weapons facilitators" were the target of raids mid-November that the US-led coalition force, which works alongside ISAF, said killed more than 40 rebels. Residents said civilians were among the dead.

    "There are about 900 enemy around," Hamza said of area just south of the frontline. "Around 300 are local people and the rest are foreigners from Pakistan, Iran, Punjab, Waziristan, there are some Arabs."

    He reckons these Taliban could take the rest of Garmser town in two hours if the British ISAF soldiers were not here. And after two days they would be in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital more than 50 kilometres away.

    "If this area is lost, the whole of Helmand is in the hands of the Taliban," he said.

    A few months ago there were several "contacts" every day but these have dropped off in recent weeks, commanding officer Major Mark Milford said at the base, which was an agricultural college before becoming a madrassa during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.

    "It could be something as simple as it is really cold at night," he said.

    But there is still enough action to keep the soldiers busy.

    Taliban usually start firing at a fort at one end of the frontline in the early morning, when the soldiers are looking into the rising sun.

    Exchanges are more regular at another fortress atop a mound built above this flat land by British soldiers here during the three Anglo-Afghan wars fought between 1839 and 1919. It is known as one of the busiest forts in Helmand.

    The rebels usually fire from trenches -- many of them irrigation canals built during a 1950s-1970s push by the United States to turn Helmand into an agriculture centre.

    Milford sends patrols down to inspect the trenches -- a feature that has resulted in Garmser being compared to a World War I battlefield.

    Sometimes they blow up the trenches but there is little point in trying to capture the ground, he said. "We can't hold it."

    He wants border police down here to supplement the regular police force of a few dozen men: there is no Afghan army.

    "This is effectively the border," Milford said.

    The commander -- whose unit arrived only a few weeks ago to take over from another one -- also sends patrols into the more secured northern area to meet the few locals that have returned.

    "We are the poor people of Garmser," 70-year-old Haji Abdullah told one patrol. "Everybody knows this is the frontline. All the rich guys have left."

    The white-haired man pointed out broken water pumps -- from which military engineers take away parts for repair -- and a bare building that he said was once his restaurant and did a good trade when the bazaar was open.

    Now the nearest functioning bazaar is on the other side of the frontline.

    Another elderly man, Haji Bagram, rolled up to the heavily armed soldiers in a wheelchair. "The clinic is destroyed, there are no doctors. Up to now we haven't seen any help, we hope you can help," he said.

    Other locals were less forthcoming.

    A visibly nervous man in one of the several cars that passed by said he could not show the soldiers around because he was busy. Another said he had to get his motorbike fixed right away.

    "When you come here, a lot of civilians pass by and some of them might say we are spies," one man said, urging the soldiers not to linger.

    "If we go to the bazaar, the Taliban might arrest us because we allowed the foreign forces to come into the village," he said..;_ylt=A0WTcVJLWFJHxFgBmwFvaA8F
    Sean Langan joins The Royal Irish Regiment as they fight against the Taleban in Southern Afghanistan.

    Filmed in September 2006, this documentry covers a bloody battle to retake the town of Garmser in Helmand province. ( BLOODY, CAUTION the best war coverage I've seen, be sure to see all 5 parts )
    Part 5 here: Youtube didn't have it with the others???
    In 5 parts, select next part on screen after video plays. ( fighting the Taliban 1 thru 4) Very good. But end Pisses you off. The videos demonstrate the effects of equipment and troop shortages, and the unnecessary COSTS.



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