April 11, 2013 | Quote

Uzbek Fighters Gain Support in Afghan North

Taloqan, Afghanistan – More than a decade ago, the people of the predominately Uzbek province of Takhar in the country's north fiercely resisted the Taliban's desire to impose Sharia on the region. 

Indeed, in January 2001, Taloqan, the provincial capital, was the final major Afghan city to fall under Taliban control. 

Months later, aerial bombardment by US and NATO forces rid the province of the Taliban, allowing security forces to turn their attention to heart of the insurgency – the Pashtun-dominated south and east. 

But if international forces forgot about the Tajik and Uzbek-dominated north, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) – an ethnic Uzbek insurgent group with reported close links to al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency – did not. 

“For the past three years, the IMU has become stronger in the north,” said General Baba Jan, commander of the 303rd Pamir Police Zone. 

As US forces withdraw, joint Afghan and coalition raids targeting the IMU are increasing. In the first three months of 2012, the number of operations targeting the IMU nationwide totalled six, half taking place in the country's northeast, according to the Long War Journal, a website tracking such activity. In the January to March period this year, raids doubled, with all but one carried out in northern Afghanistan. 

“IMU fighters are the main focus of our special forces operations. They are all over north-eastern Afghanistan,” said General Zalmai Wesa, 209th ANA Corps commander in the north. “They train locals in IEDs, suicide attacks and other sophisticated attacks and are behind the assassination of a number of officials and tribal elders. 

“They're like a virus, the more they spread, the more they spread the disease.”

Read the full article here.


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