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Gholam Yahya Akbari targeted in precision strike in Herat Province

Release No: UNRELEASED Feb. 18, 2009 PRINT | E-MAIL

PRESS RELEASE

U.S. Forces Afghanistan

February 17, 2009

Release Number 20091702-05

Gholam Yahya Akbari targeted in precision strike in Herat Province

KABUL, Afghanistan - A Coalition forces precision strike targeted Gholam Yahya Akbari, a key insurgent commander, near Gozara district, Heart province, Feb. 16.  Killed in the attack were up to 15 militants suspected of associating with Yahya.

Coalition forces targeted Yahya through credible reports provided by concerned Afghan citizens.  He is known to move throughout the mountains in the area hiding amongst the civilian populace to avoid detection. 

"Knowing he is targeted by Coalition forces, Yahya shows a total disregard for human life by operating among the civilian population and deliberately seeking out innocent civilian targets to carry out acts of terror and violence," said Lt. Col. Rick Helmer, a U.S. Forces Afghanistan spokesperson.

Coalition forces engaged Yahya’s suspected hideout with a precision strike after he was reported entering a compound approximately 20 km east of Herat. 

Intelligence reports that Yahya is infamous for brutal treatment against civilians and village elders and has been known to kidnap those who oppose him and take them to his mountain encampments.  He has also been linked to extortion and murder.

Former Mayor of Herat, Yahya had affiliations with Hezb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin and the Taliban.  He is responsible for an increase in violence in Herat over recent months, including attacks against a United Nations Assistance Mission in an Afghanistan compound in May and June, 2008.  He is also responsible for attacks against the Herat City Airport in May 2008. 

With these attacks Yahya intended to disrupt stability in Heart and discredit the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Recently his group claimed responsibility for a cowardly attack against a 207th Afghan Corps helicopter resulting in the deaths of many national heroes.

"Yahya’s agenda only serves to halt progress toward stability and prosperity in Afghanistan while he bullied those who want to live in peace," said Lt. Col. Helmer.

An assessment of the strike is ongoing, Coalition forces are currently arranging for a combined Coalition and Afghan assessment team.

"There are no official reports of civilian casualties at this time; however, when we receive confirmed reports of civilian deaths we take those reports very seriously and investigate them along with our Afghan counterparts," said Lt. Col. Helmer. "Coalition forces make every effort to prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives."   

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United States Forces Afghanistan’s mission, in coordination with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, is to conduct operations to defeat terrorist networks and insurgents by developing effective governance and building the Afghan National Security Force.  Effective security throughout the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan facilitates continued regional stability and increases economic development for the people of Afghanistan.

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