18 Afghan Rebels Die in Clash With U.S. At least 18 rebels were killed in the assault. The U.S. military believes the fighters are loyal to renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a powerful Pashtun strongman who has vowed to link his forces with remnants of al-Qaida and the ousted Taliban régime.
While King said evidence pointed to Hekmatyar’s military arm, the Hezb-e-Islami movement, he gave no further details, and a former high-ranking Taliban member questioned that.
Obeidullah, who goes by only one name, told The Associated Press that the fighting was being led by two ex-Taliban — Hafiz Abdul Rahim, the régime’s former chief of the border security, and Sirajuddin, former district chief of Shindand in western Afghanistan.
Hekmatyar was a key guerrilla commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. Later, in the civil war that paved the way for the Taliban takeover, Hekmatyar’s men pounded the capital, Kabul, with daily rocket barrages. He lived in exile in Iran during the five years of the Taliban rule, and returned after U.S.-led forces ousted the hardline militia. Western intelligence agencies suspect he is getting money from Iran. [Yahoo! News]
Here’s an example of how much confusion can arise from the media’s refusal to call a terrorist a terrorist. After reading the article, I can’t figure out if the fighting is with actual rebels, or with Taliban leftovers who are being labeled rebels, or what. It seems like the US soldiers involved aren’t even too sure.