Troops hit Taliban bomb factories (Afghanistan)

Canadian operation seen among most successful this year


Troops from the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment and their Afghan army allies "hit the jackpot" in a major combat operation that ended Sunday, discovering four factories used by the Taliban to make improvised explosive devices about 17 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City.
"The quality of stuff we took was absolutely impressive. We have taken away their capacity to make thousands of IEDs," said the lead author of the mission, Lt.-Col. Mike Patrick. He described the operation, which was dubbed Constrictor 4, as the most successful carried out so far this year in Kandahar to degrade the enemy's ability to fight.
As well as seizing suicide bomber vests and large quantities of explosive nitrates and accelerants, the troops found three 50-calibre Russian heavy machine guns, two 82mm bazookas, thousands of metres of commercial grade detonation cord and large quantities of ballbearings that can cause extreme bodily harm when packed into IEDs.
"It was one of those serendipitous moments when we thought we would find one thing and hoped for another and found it. Our success in this operation was a '10,'" the chief of operations for Canada's Task Force Afghanistan said.
"It was the difference between a Mom and Pop operation and the Mafia. It was a small assembly line. Mr. Ford would have been proud."
However, "regrettably," the four-day operation resulted in the 125th death of a Canadian soldier since Ottawa first sent troops to Afghanistan in 2002, Patrick said. Pte. Sebastien Courcy was killed Thursday morning when he stepped on an explosive that may have been an old Soviet anti-personnel mine while manning an observation post on a mountain overlooking the battlefield. The blast at the top of Salavat Ghar was probably not fatal but it caused Courcy to tumble to his death off what has described as "a cliff."
Another Canadian was injured later in the operation when he came upon "a booby trap," Patrick said. The soldier's wounds were not considered serious, he said.
The operation began late Wednesday with a feint towards the town of Salavat by a company of soldiers from the U.S. army's 2nd battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment operating under Canadian command and by Leopard tanks from the Alberta-based Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) which made a show of force and helped clear the way of IEDs.
The main attack a few kilometres away on Nakhoney followed the next day. It involved an air assault by about 250 Van Doos who were flown into battle by two waves of mostly Canadian helicopters. Other ground elements then moved in to complete the encirclement of the town which has about 2,000 residents.

Von:, 20.07.2009

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