U.S.-led coalition forces killed a senior Taliban commander believed to have taken part in the March kidnapping of Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo and the murder of two of his Afghan assistants. Taliban leader Mullah Sainy died in an air strike as Afghan security forces mounted an operation to retake the Musa Qaleh district of Helmand province.
According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security and Assistance Force, or I.S.A.F., the Taliban now controls only five of the country's fifty-nine districts. Afghan army and police forces are playing an ever-greater role in securing the country.
They recently demonstrated their effectiveness in the Mazar-e Sharif area. The area had been relatively quiet until Taliban insurgents began to conduct attacks and robberies. Local residents asked the Afghan government for help. In response, six-hundred Afghan army troops and two-hundred-fifty Afghan police officers, supported by I.S.A.F., went after the Taliban. Fifty insurgents were killed or wounded and several important Taliban members were captured. Troop commander U.S. Army Colonel Edward Daly helped to train the Afghan forces that participated in the operation. He said they performed well:
The Afghans were in the lead, and I'm not just talking about the army. In every event, the police and the army worked together.
Major General Murad Ali is the commander of the Afghan army's 209th Corps. Speaking through an interpreter, he said he and his troops are grateful for U.S. assistance and that his country's army is taking the fight to the enemy:
[The] Afghan National Army, representing all the tribes in Afghanistan, is in the development process and is having [acquiring] skill against the enemies of Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Colonel Edward Daly said, War is a performance business, and the Afghans are performing very well.