US attack blows up arms cache of Afghan warlord

US forces attacked a village of local commander Jan Ahmad and blew up an arms cache belonging to him. The US said the raid was carried out to destroy the weapons.
The stated role of the remaining US troops in Afghanistan is to advise and train Afghan forces as well as engage in counter-terrorism operations. In exceptional circumstances the Americans can launch attacks on their own as in this case. However, Ahmad the target is a veteran of the Afghan war against the former Soviet-backed regime and also fought later against the Taliban. He appears to be quite popular locally. Ahmad and other local warlords with their own weapons and militia are regarded by the US and often the Afghan government as a threat against them. However, Afghan officials say they were not informed of the raid and that any concern about Ahmad should have been handled by the Afghan government.
The raid resulted in huge protests. Protesters blocked the main highway to Kabul. Ahmad supporters shouted "Death to America" and "Death to the Enemies of Islam". Shops in Charikar the capital of Parwan province remained closed due to the protests.
Public affairs director Colonel Brian Tribus said:"U.S. forces conducted an operation ... to destroy a cache of munitions that could be used to conduct attacks against Afghans and coalition forces." Former commanders and local elders see the raid as politically motivated and perhaps a settling of scores from the hotly contested presidential campaign last election.
Ahmad had supported Abdullah Abdullah who was the opponent of President Ashraf Ghani. Ahmad was among a number of commanders who had threatened to use force to create a rival government to Ghani. However, a compromise was finally worked out. Abdullah, who was made chief executive in a power-sharing government with Ghani called for restraint and for protesters to remain calm. He called on General John Campbell who commands the US forces in Afghanistan to provide further information on the raid. An aide to Ahmad said the raid on Ahmad's home was carried out about 4:30 AM in the morning with US forces descending from helicopters. After searching the home, the soldiers blew up the arms depot.
The largest US base in Afghanistan Bagram is in Parwan. It has been frequently under rocket attack of late but by the Taliban not local warlords. Nevertheless, the US is concerned that local armed warlords might also turn against the Americans. Negotiations involving Ahmad and Parwan officials led to the opening of the highway at noon. Special forces of the Afghan intelligence service have also carried out raids in Parwan during recent weeks The manner of the searches has angered local residents. They found no weapons.
Night raids were very unpopular during the era of former President Karzai who refused to sign the Status of Forces agreement with the US as they were still allowed in "exceptional circumstances". Local authorities had no notice that the Parwan raid would happen. There are about 9,800 US troops remaining in Afghanistan. About 3,000 operate outside the NATO training mission set to end in 2016. There is very little reporting about the activities of US counter-terrorism troops with this raid being an exception. A combat video appended shows them in action last year in Afghanistan.


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