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ADF Supports Dutch Against Taliban Attacks

CPA 176/07 Saturday, 23 June 2007

ADF Supports Dutch Against Taliban Attacks

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has provided routine forms of military support to a Dutch-led operation against Taliban extremists over the period 16-17 June.

A Dutch-led element of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) responded to a dramatically deteriorating security situation in the Chora Valley in Southern Afghanistan in support of the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF). It has been reported that a significant number of insurgents, who had been terrorising the local population, had attacked the Dutch element before withdrawing into a local compound.

Australian forces provided routine military support as part of the Dutch-led Task Force in the region. Australian forces were not involved in combat.

Reports about the Taliban attack note that there were heinous events leading up to the battle. Based on these reports, the Dutch made a decision to confront the Taliban. The nature and consequences of the battle are being evaluated.

The ADF shares the concerns of NATO that the Taliban are choosing to attack from inside areas heavily populated by civilians intentionally putting the lives of civilians at risk.

Initial reports have indicated that a number of civilian casualties may have occurred during this period. The ADF is concerned about any loss of innocent lives. Australian forces operate under Rules of Engagement that aim to avoid and minimise civilian casualties.

Consistent with usual practice in such circumstances, the ADF is reviewing the operation and is prepared to support the Dutch-led investigation. The Chief of the Defence Force, ACM Angus Houston has spoken with his Dutch counterpart, Chief of the Defence Service, General Dick Berlijn to discuss the operation generally including the issue of civilian casualties - something that we would always wish to see minimised.

ends

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