- Stand back, America! Let the Aussies show you how its done:
SAS ‘assassinate’ Taliban leader Mullah Noorullah
AUSTRALIAN special forces have taken part in a targeted assassination of a senior Taliban leader, an operation army commanders claim will disrupt the insurgents’ campaign in southern Oruzgan.
Mullah Noorullah was killed in a combined operation involving coalition troops and Australian special forces, Defence said yesterday.
It did not say when Noorullah was killed but did say the incident occurred in Deh Rafshan district in southern Oruzgan, where the Australian Special Operations Task Group is based.
The SOTG tag is commonly used by defence as a synonym to describe elite Special Air Service operatives authorised to hunt and kill Taliban leaders in an Afghan variation on the Vietnam-era Phoenix Program.
The statement was vague about Noorullah’s position within the Taliban hierarchy, but it claimed he had been involved in an April 12 attack on Australian reconstruction and mentoring soldiers, in which four insurgents were killed.
It was alleged the insurgent leader was implicated in other unspecified roadside bomb and rocket attacks against coalition forces.
Ten Australian soldiers have been killed in action in Afghanistan since 2001 and more than
60 wounded, many of them as
a result of roadside bomb explosions.
Noorullah and one other insurgent were tracked moving into a tunnel system and then killed in a “targeted operation”, Defence said.
“There were no civilian casualties resulting from the operation,” it said.
Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant-General Mark Evans said Noorullah’s death would have a “degrading effect” on the Taliban’s command and control ability.
“Through our operations targeting the Taliban’s leadership and its networks, coalition forces are disrupting the insurgent’s ability to command and control operations,” General Evans said.
“The result of this constant targeting is that the Taliban are not able to readily co-ordinate attacks on coalition forces until replacement leaders are recruited and they can rebuild their knowledge and skills.”
Last month, the SOTG claimed credit for killing Mullah Abdul Bari, a former Taliban governor of Helmand province.
The Afghan Defence Ministry reported Bari’s killing occurred in northern Helmand, the first confirmation Australian SAS operations were not confined to Oruzgan, in the south, where the bulk of the 1100-strong Australian taskforce is based.
Like Noorullah, Bari was linked to a spate of roadside bomb and suicide attacks on NATO-led coalition forces.
In January, General Evans announced another successful SOTG-targeted killing, of Mullah Abdul Rasheed.
Rasheed, a senior Baluchi Valley Taliban commander, was identified as having organised the importation of foreign fighters in addition to having expertise in planning and implementing deadly roadside bomb attacks.
The death of Rasheed was described as a “significant achievement” for the SOTG and one that would “significantly disrupt” Taliban operations in Oruzgan.