Pakistani Taliban creating camps, sending fighters to Syria

Taliban in Syria  Members of the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters on Sunday that they have set up training camps and claimed they have sent hundreds of men to Syria to help the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters).  One Taliban commander said the request for help came from the group’s "Arab friends," while other observers ...

ABO MHIO/AFP/Getty Images
ABO MHIO/AFP/Getty Images
ABO MHIO/AFP/Getty Images

Taliban in Syria 

Members of the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters on Sunday that they have set up training camps and claimed they have sent hundreds of men to Syria to help the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters).  One Taliban commander said the request for help came from the group's "Arab friends," while other observers have suggested the move was aimed at strengthening the group's ties with al-Qaeda's central leadership.  The Pakistani Taliban's involvement in the two-year Syrian civil war further complicates the picture on the ground, with tense rivalries existing between members of the Free Syrian Army and Islamists.

Taliban in Syria 

Members of the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters on Sunday that they have set up training camps and claimed they have sent hundreds of men to Syria to help the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters).  One Taliban commander said the request for help came from the group’s "Arab friends," while other observers have suggested the move was aimed at strengthening the group’s ties with al-Qaeda’s central leadership.  The Pakistani Taliban’s involvement in the two-year Syrian civil war further complicates the picture on the ground, with tense rivalries existing between members of the Free Syrian Army and Islamists.

At least two suspected militants were killed on Saturday night in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan (Dawn, NYT).  According to Pakistani officials, the strike occurred around 11:30 p.m. near Mir Ali, the second-largest town in North Waziristan.  The suspected militants, who have not been identified, were killed while riding a motorcycle.  Pakistan’s Foreign Office released a statement Monday condemning the strike (Dawn). 

In the Khyber tribal region, at least ten alleged militants were killed and 12 others were injured on Sunday when the Pakistani Air Force struck nine different militant hideouts (Dawn, Reuters).  According to official sources, all nine targets were destroyed; though these reports could not be verified by independent media.  Pakistani officials believe the mountains linking the Orakzai, Khyber, and Kurram tribal areas are a main Pakistani Taliban stronghold.

Twenty-four Pakistani women made history on Sunday when they became the country’s first group of female paratroopers to complete their training (AFP).  After three weeks of basic airborne training, the women completed their first jump on Sunday and were given their "wings."  A military spokesman recognized the historic day and said: "From now on, lady officers will not be restricted to the Army Medical Corps…They will be able to serve alongside men in active combat on the battlefield" (ET). 

Davis Guggenheim, a documentarian known for films like "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Waiting for Superman," revealed last week that he will be filming Malala Yousafzai for an upcoming documentary about her campaign for universal primary education (NYT).  While the film was originally intended to be based on an upcoming memoir from Yousafzai, both Guggenheim and his producers felt no one would really be able to portray the 16-year-old and chose to focus on her campaign instead.  Yousafzai herself has said that she doesn’t want to be known as the girl the Pakistani Taliban tried to kill, but as "the girl who struggled for her rights" (AFP). 

Escaped

Lamber Khan, an Afghan soldier arrested in the shooting death of a Slovak soldier last week, escaped from an Afghan Army base in Kandahar province on Sunday morning (NYT, Pajhwok).  According to an Afghan military official, Khan, a five-year Army veteran, fled custody with help from the soldier charged with guarding him.  Both men were from Jalalabad but it’s unclear what caused the guard to assist in Khan’s escape.  Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, released a statement saying that Khan and his guard had joined the militant group.

At least five Taliban militants were killed in Paktia province on Saturday in a NATO air strike (AP).  General Zelmia Oryakhail, the provincial police chief, said his reports indicate 12 Taliban fighters were killed, including a regional leaders, and that there were no civilian casualties.

After the New York Times reported on Friday that more than 60 percent of Afghan diplomats do not return home after their assignments end, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the paper’s Kabul bureau chief for an explanation of what they called "an irresponsible and unprofessional piece of reporting" (Pajhwok).  The Times report follows one from the German paper Der Spiegel, which said that of the 105 diplomats who were supposed to report for duty in June, only 5 appeared in Kabul (Der Spiegel). 

Menswear

Shopkeepers in Wana, South Waziristan’s largest town, told reporters on Saturday that the Pakistan Taliban, which has banned tight or see-through clothing for women, has now banned similar items for men (AFP).  According to a pamphlet that was distributed in the town’s bazaar, clothes that are made from thin material and do not properly cover men’s bodies are "un-Islamic and against Pashtun culture."  Shopkeepers found to be selling such items will be fined 5,000 rupees ($50) and see their shops shuttered for at least five days.

— Bailey Cahall  

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