The Battle of Chora took place in and around the town of Chora (3,000 inhabitants), in Afghanistan's Orūzgān Province, during June 15–19, 2007. The fighting was between ISAF and Afghan forces on one side and Taliban forces on the other, for the control of the Chora District centre, regarded by the Taliban as a tactical target because it provides ground access from unsecured Gizab district in the north to the provincial capital of Tarin Kowt. According to some press reports, the fighting was the largest Taliban offensive of 2007 in Afghanistan, and resulted in the death of one American, one Australian, two Dutch and 16 Afghan soldiers, as well as approximately 58 civilians and an unknown number of Taliban.
Prelude[edit | edit source]
Oruzgan province, along with neighboring Kandahar and Helmand provinces in southern Afghanistan, is part of the Taliban's traditional Pashtun tribal stronghold. In Oruzgan, NATO's ISAF mission took over authority for Afghanistan from the US-led coalition in August 2006, resulting in 1,400 Dutch soldiers replacing some 150 US troops at the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Oruzgan's provincial capital, Tarin Kowt, and other bases. In addition to co-located Afghan battalions, there was an Australian element under Dutch command and contributions from other NATO allies. Oruzgan is 2/3 the size of the Netherlands, but the Dutch presence has been challenged with providing security to areas it patrols regularly. When faced with the security challenge, the Dutch reverted to an "inkspot policy" whereby they focused their attention only on Oruzgan's three population centres, leaving other areas to Taliban control.
Dutch activities included setting up checkpoints, some of which were near the town of Chora. At the time, there were 100 Afghan police in Chora.
Dutch troops were working in Chora on projects such as a school, a mosque and a bridge, following up on civilian construction projects initiated by the US. 60 Dutch troops were deployed in Chora, led by Captain Larry Hamers of the Regiment Stoottroepen Prins Bernhard.
Battle[edit | edit source]
June 15[edit | edit source]
On Friday evening June 15 there was some shooting near Chora. In the morning of that day, a Dutch convoy in Tarin Kowt was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing a Dutch soldier, Timo Smeehuijzen and several Afghan civilians.
June 16[edit | edit source]
A U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt II spotted a group of 60 persons moving toward Chora. Dutch troops at Chora were informed, but the A-10 did not engage the group, due to uncertainty over their identity and intentions.
Shortly after, three Afghan police posts (Kala Kala, Nyazi and Sarab), on the road linking Chora to Tarin Kowt came under coordinated attack by a large number of Taliban fighters (the Dutch press claim "800" men, although this number seems impossibly large and cannot be verified). Dutch troops in Chora moved to support the Kala Kala and Nyazi Afghan police posts.
The Taliban captured Sarab police post, killing two brothers of the commander of the post. They also cut off the hands of the wife of a captured policeman who was forced to watch her mutilation before being beheaded himself. That afternoon, the Dutch withdrew from the Kala Kala and Nyazi checkpoints, allowing the Taliban to capture these posts as well.
The Dutch troops reassembled near the Chora district building and contacted their commander, Colonel Hans van Griensven in Kamp Holland near Tarin Kowt, for instructions. Griensven ordered them to stay and fight.  ISAF aircraft provided support and attacked the Taliban, scouts reported that 30 Taliban volunteers led by individuals nicknamed Kaka and Sadam, were gathered inside a farm at the village of Qual Eh-Ye-Ragh. An Apache helicopter fired two Hellfire-missiles at the farm, killing the Bosnians and civilians inside.
Rozi Khan, a local tribal militia leader with shifting loyalties (who was himself killed during October 2008 fighting in the area), offered 150-200 of his fighters to support the defense of Chora. The Dutch and Chora village leaders accepted Khan's offer reluctantly as the village leaders had to arm Khan's fighters (aware that Khan might later change sides again and turn the weapons on them). A group of Dutch and Australian troops at Kamp Holland near Tarin Kowt moved to Chora, commanded by LTC Rob Querido. The Australian troops deployed in Baluchi valley, between Tarin Kowt and Chora, to secure the key road.
June 17–18[edit | edit source]
On Sunday June 17 and Monday June 18 Dutch reinforcements arrived from Kamp Holland and a second Dutch base in Deh Rahwod, increasing the number of Dutch troops at Chora to 500. 50 Afghan Army reinforcements also arrived in Chinook helicopters. Taliban fighters, who had gained control of most of the residential areas, forced civilians to fight with them or face execution. The Taliban also used civilian homes as shelter, but were still attacked by NATO aircraft, causing civilian casualties. As the fighting continued, many Taliban fighters were killed.
At one time, six Dutch F-16s were in the air, engaging ground targets assigned by the infantry.
On the night of Sunday, June 17 to the morning of Monday, June 18, during the loading of an 81-mm mortar, which was deployed in the courtyard of the Chora district government building, a bomb exploded inside the launch tube, killing Dutch Sergeant-Major Jos Leunissen and wounding three other Dutch soldiers.
June 19[edit | edit source]
At 9:30 am, NATO briefly withdrew the aircraft supporting the fighting at Chora, but air support was restored at 9:40 when Col. Van Griensven reportedly threatened to withdraw the six Dutch F-16s from NATO command.[why?]
At 10:00 Dutch and Afghan troops, together with Rozi Khan's militia, made a push called "Operation Troy", in which they recaptured the three lost checkpoints.
References[edit | edit source]
- (Dutch) Uruzgan Weblog: Uruzgan: Het gevecht om Chora
- (Dutch) Infanteristen, commando’s: iedereen vecht tegen Taliban - Binnenland - de Volkskrant
- Operation Enduring Freedom: Coalition Deaths
- "Over 100 die in southern Afghan battle". www.usatoday.com. 2007-06-19. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-06-18-afghanistan-airstrike_N.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-04.
- Operation Enduring Freedom: Coalition Fatalities
- "Afghan officials: Over 100 killed in southern battle". www..cnn.com/. 2007-06-19. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/BUSINESS/06/19/afghanistan.clashes.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2007-07-04. [dead link]
- (Dutch) ‘Ze schoten een magazijn op me leeg’ - Binnenland - de Volkskrant
[edit | edit source]
- Associated Press (June 18, 2007). "Over 100 Militants, Civilians and Police Killed In Massive Afghan Battle". www.foxnews.com. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,284052,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
- (Dutch) "'Chora-crisis' zet hele missie in Uruzgan onder druk". www.nrc.nl (NRC). June 22, 2007. http://www.nrc.nl/binnenland/article727575.ece/Chora-crisis_zet_hele_missie_in_Uruzgan_onder_druk (Dutch). Retrieved 2007-07-04.
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