NATO officials are strongly denying a report they plan expand special forces raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas.
U.S. Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, a senior official with the NATO-led forces in Afghanistan (ISAF), said there was no truth to the report. He spoke Tuesday in response to a story in The New York Times newspaper that said senior U.S. military officials want to expand special forces operations into Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Smith said NATO has developed a “strong working relationship” with the Pakistani military that recognizes the “sovereignty of Afghanistan and Pakistan to pursue insurgents and terrorists operating in their respective border areas.”
The New York Times report says U.S. commanders were pushing to cross into Pakistan in a bid to capture militants who could provide valuable intelligence.
The New York Times said, however, the plan has not been approved, and the newspaper said a senior Obama administration official opposed the cross-border plan. It quotes the official saying operations into Pakistan have been “counterproductive,” and that political fallout in Pakistan could negate any gains.
The U.S. has used a campaign of air strikes from unmanned drone aircraft to target militants in Pakistan’s tribal region. U.S. officials do not comment on the strikes except to say they are an integral part of the war against al-Qaida terrorists who use the region as a strategic base.