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Related Categories: Afghanistan | International
Operation Lion Heart
by IOL (reposted)
Thursday Nov 20th, 2008 7:54 AM
ISLAMABAD — American, Pakistani and Afghan troops are conducting a coordinated operation to hunt down Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants along the Afghan border.
"Pakistan doesn’t have the drone technology. Therefore, we have to depend on them (US forces)," a senior Pakistani government official told, requesting anonymity for the sensitivity of the issue.

The latest such attack targeted a house in the northwestern Bannu district, the first US missile strike outside the rugged tribal regions.

"The attack is part of a coordinated operation jointly launched by Pakistani and US forces along Pak-Afghan border," confirmed the government official.

"It killed six foreigners, including key Al-Qaeda leader Abdullah Azam."

The latest strike came five days after two missiles fired from a US drone aircraft killed 10 alleged militants in the North Waziristan region.

The American army has conducted nearly 39 drone attacks inside Pakistan during the past ten months killing hundreds of tribesmen, including children and women.

Colonel John Spiszer, who commands the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade, told reporters in Kabul that the operation, codenamed Lion heart, takes cooperation between US, Afghan and Pakistani forces to "the next level."

The Pakistani government official confirmed that the joint operation is part of a clandestine tactic agreement between Islamabad and Washington.

The deal, reportedly clinched after President Asif Zardari's first official visit to Washington in September, allows US drones to strike targets inside the restive tribal belt where suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban militants are reportedly taking shelter.

Under the understanding, Pakistan will continue to publically complain about the strikes and Washington would never acknowledge them.

The Pakistani government denies any such deal insisting that Pakistan is a sovereign country and no body would be allowed to attack its soil.

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