WASHINGTON (AFP) — Over 70 American military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its military units conduct operations against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in western tribal areas, The New York Times reported.
Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the advisers mostly include US Army Special Forces soldiers.
Overseen by the US Central Command and Special Operations Command, the advisers provide the Pakistani army with training and intelligence, the report said. But they do not get involved in combat operations.
The advisers form part of a secret task force that was started last summer with the support of the Pakistani government and military, the report said.
The cooperation has never been publicly acknowledged, but is beginning to pay dividends, the paper noted.
According to The Times, a new Pakistani commando unit within the Frontier Corps has used information from the Central Intelligence Agency and other sources to kill or capture as many as 60 militants in the past seven months, including at least five high-ranking rebel commanders.
Four weeks ago, the commandos captured a Saudi militant linked to Al-Qaeda, the report said.
But the main commanders of the Pakistani Taliban, including its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and its leader in the Swat region, Maulana Fazlullah, remain at large, according to the paper.
US military officials are also concerned that they have not been able to persuade the head of the Pakistani army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to embrace large-scale counterinsurgency training for the army itself, The Times said.
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