Khyber IV: Eliminating Terrorists‘ Safe Havens

Pakistan Army has launched Operation Khyber IV on July 16, 2017 against terrorists in Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency. This ongoing operation has been launched under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad .The operation is aimed at clearing the 250 square kilometers area of Rajgal Valley from the terrorists, secure areas up to international border with Afghanistan, eliminate terrorists’ hideouts, and establish writ of the state. The operation will also create conditions for safe return and peaceful rehabilitation of Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs) from Rajgal Valley. Approximately 500 TDPs families are waiting for the return to their homes that they once had to flee from due to terrorists. A Division plus size force including troops from the Special Services Group (SSG) are taking part in the operation. These troops are being supported by Artillery, Pakistan Army Aviation and Pakistan Air Force. So far the operation is progressing as per plan and most of the area has been cleared from the terrorists. Thickly forested Rajgal Valley is surrounded by high mountain peaks ranging from 12000 to 14000 feet, dominates eight mountain passes, and is considered one of the most difficult terrains in the entire Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

khyberfourelim.jpgOperation Khyber IV is a continuation of overall military campaign that was adopted in 2008-9 to squeeze the terrorists from multi-directions and clear all areas from terrorists. As part of this military campaign, Bajaur, Swat, Mohmand, Kurram, South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Khyber Agency and parts of Orakzai Agency infested with terrorists had been cleared. Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched on June 15, 2014 to clear North Waziristan and Operation Khyber I, II and III were launched to clear Khyber Agency.

Rajgal Valley is bordering Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan and is located next to the international border. The growing presence of Daesh (ISIS) in Afghanistan and particularly opposite Rajgal Valley, necessitated launch of the military operation to secure the left over areas up to international border. There were intelligence reports of movement across the border by various terrorist organizations including Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), Lashkar-e-Islam (LI), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) and their growing nexus with Daesh elements present inside Afghanistan. According to reports, the suicide bombing in Parachinar on June 23, 2017 was also linked to these elements. The information regarding launch of Operation Khyber IV were shared (twice verbally and in writing) with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and forces of Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Pakistan Army has always endeavored for trust-based security coordination and cooperation to fight against common enemy and expects Afghan and foreign forces to respond and share their burden of responsibility.

Pakistan Army troops in line with their tradition of matchless courage, competence and sacrifice, have once again been able to clear this difficult and treacherous terrain. Spinkai Top dominating Sparai Pass, Star Kille, Brekh Top and adjacent areas have been cleared of terrorists. A substantial cache of weapons and ammunition have been captured and IEDs cleared. Many terrorists have been killed, injured and few managed to flee across the border towards Afghanistan to their safe havens. Pakistan Army has also suffered few casualties including martyrdom of Sepoy Muhammad Yasir and Sepoy Abdul Jabbar. However, with every shaheed, the resolve of Pakistan Army gets further strengthened to fight this battle till the end, finish the remnants of terrorism from Pakistani soil, and obtain enduring peace.

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