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Cablegate: Advance in South Waziristan Continues; Fighting

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P 241058Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6133
INFO AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY
AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY
AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY
USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
OSAF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T ISLAMABAD 002837


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR MASS PK
SUBJECT: ADVANCE IN SOUTH WAZIRISTAN CONTINUES; FIGHTING
MOVES NORTH TO ORAKZAI

REF: A. ISLAMABAD 2591
B. ISLAMABAD 2607
C. ISLAMABAD 2672
D. ISLAMABAD 2708
E. ISLAMABAD 2775
F. ISLAMABAD 2801


Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b) (d)


1. (S/NF) Summary: Pakistani ground forces advanced into the interior of Makin, where they appear to be meeting little resistance in the sixth week of Operation Rah-e-Nijat (""Path of Salvation""), the Pakistan military's air and ground offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in the Mehsud tribal area of South Waziristan. On November 19, the 11th Corps' 14th Infantry Division entered Janata with only light resistance. Meanwhile, operations have expanded into the northern FATA where Frontier Corps (FC) units backed by gunships and artillery hit insurgent targets in Orakzai Agency, destroying a number of insurgent hideouts and reportedly making a number of arrests. End Summary.

2. (S//NF) The Pakistan military's Operation Rah-e-Nijat continues as ground forces control the three former TTP strongholds of Ladha, Makin and Sora Rogha (also known as Sorarogha) in the Mehsud tribal area of South Waziristan.
The 7th Division moved substantial forces into the Makin interior with apparent impunity, which suggests they are meeting light resistance. On November 19, the 14th Division moved into Janata. Additionally, we have seen evidence that 7th Division and Frontier Corps units have entered Ghariam farther north. In each instance, we assess little militant resistance. In the case of Janata, this is surprising given its reputation as an Uzbek stronghold.
Meanwhile air strikes were conducted in South Waziristan and the northern FATA throughout the week.

STATUS OF GROUND FORCES
-----------------------

3. (S/NF) On the southeast axis, the 14th Division task force, which entered Janata on November 19, has secured key terrain to over watch and isolate the widely scattered compounds that comprise the town. Clearing operations continue, but resistance around Janata has reportedly been light. Open sources reported that a large cache of weapons and ammunition was seized in Janata on November 20, which suggests that the insurgents conducted a hasty withdrawal.

4. (S/NF) On the southwest axis, the 9th Division has secured Ladha and appears to have initiated a deliberate attack toward Makin on November 23. Insurgent resistance in and around Kaniguram (five miles southwest of Ladha) and in Ladha continues, though with significantly less intensity.

5. (S/NF) In the north, units of the 7th Division have entered Makin and appear to have unfettered access to the village. There has been little evidence of fighting in or near the village for the past several days. Maneuver units continue to occupy blocking positions north, southeast, and southwest of the built-up area of that town. Meanwhile, 7th Division units continue to clear the area north of Makin in the area of Tauda China and along the entire Razmak-Makin Line of Communication (LOC).

6. (S/NF) In related action in North Waziristan, an infantry company team has established a blocking position five miles east of Razmak and an Army battalion, an FC wing, and an artillery battalion are in position at Ghariam, 7 miles east of Kund Mela. Operation ""Pash Ziarat"", a small-scale operation of battalion task force strength, is designed to link-up forces between Mana and Razmak at the village of Pash Ziarat Narai and clear insurgent forces that likely fled from the Mehsud tribal area. The likely intent of these deployments is to intercept militants who attempt to flee from Makin and Janata to North Waziristan and the northern FATA. The FATA Secretariat reports fighting among Wazir tribes, who have a neutrality agreement with the Pakistani military, on whether to allow fleeing Mehsud forces to cross North Waziristan into Afghanistan.

7. (S/NF) Comment: Over the last several weeks, Operation Rah-i-Nijat has significantly disrupted the command, control, and logistics of the TTP, but it has not destroyed the TTP's organization and network given the relatively light resistance we have seen as ground forces retake control over major roads and population centers. Our assessment is that TTP Leaders and the preponderance of their forces have largely evaded 11th Corps' operation, fleeing to Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram Agencies via North Waziristan and/or Afghanistan. This highlights the importance of Frontier Corps operations in Kurram, Khyber, and Orakzai Agencies to interdict significant TTP elements that have likely moved northward, but we cannot yet determine if the FC's efforts are capable of effectively pursuing them. Snow already is falling in the mountain passes and the Tirah Valley stronghold of the TTP, but action is still possible in and around Orakzai and Kurram.

8. (S/NF) On a brighter note, there is the possibility that operations in the northern FATA may provide additional opportunities to embed U.S. Special Operations Forces with FC units to provide ISR support and general operational guidance. If we can expand on what we have recently been doing on Bajaur Agency reftel F) with our embeds, it would be a significant opportunity to contribute to the pursuit of the TTP.

PATTERSON "

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