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Explainer: Taliban ‘Special Forces Unit’ Bursts Into Spotlight With Deadly Attacks

Bill Roggio
5th December 2017 - Quoted by Frud Bezhan - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

On the increasingly crowded battlefields of Afghanistan, a feared, commando-style Taliban unit is gaining attention for a series spectacular, deadly attacks on Afghan security forces.

Known as "Sara Kheta" -- Red Unit or Danger Unit in Pashto -- it is said to be the Taliban's elite special-forces group. Analysts say that, unlike regular Taliban fighters, the outfit is better-trained and armed and is sent on special operations targeting bases and posts of the Afghan National Army and police force.

The so-called Red Unit's rise has raised concerns among government forces struggling to fend off the Taliban since the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 and suffering record casualty rates on the battlefield.

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"The Red Unit and regular Taliban forces use the same types of weapons: small arms, RPGs, and machine guns," says Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal. "Typically, the Red Unit has newer weapons and is occasionally seen with night-vision devices that have been seized from Afghan forces."

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How much of a threat is it?

"The Red Unit poses a significant threat to Afghan forces," Roggio says. "It has had great success on the battlefield when going head to head with Afghan units."

Roggio says the unit operates like shock troops, often leading assaults on Afghan district centers, military bases, and outposts.

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Read more here.

Tags

afghanistan, long-war-journal, sunni-jihadism, taliban