New Delhi, India The Soviet Union, entering its sixth year of military occupation of Afghanistan, has stationed 10,000 fresh troops along Afghan borders with Iran and Pakistan and may be planning “quick strikes” into Pakistan, Western diplomats said today.
The diplomats said the deployments are apparently an effort to keep Moslem rebels and supplies from entering Afghanistan through Iran and Pakistan.
“But recent charges by the Afghan government of border violations by Pakistan has led to speculation in Kabul that Moscow intends to engage in occasional pursuits or quick strikes into Pakistan,’ one diplomat said.
The Soviets, who maintain an occupation force estimated at 115,000 troops, may have laid the groundwork for possible cross-border incursions during a ‘‘very successful” airborne operation in eastern Paktia province next to Pakistan, one diplomat said.
“Russian airborne units attacked rebel strongholds in the Tor Ghar mountain region of Paktia beginning Nov. 18-19,” said the source, who like other diplomats insisted on anonymity.
“Five squadrons of big Soviet MI-6 helicopters each carrying tanks took part in the operation. Ninety rebels were captured alive and many others were killed,”’ said the Western source.
Diplomats from two different Western countries reported the Soviets have stationed 7,000 new troops at Robatejaili in Nimroz province, at the southwestern tip of Afghanistan near where Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan meet.
Another 3,000 Russian soldiers were sent to the northwestern province of Herat near the Iranian border, according to the diplomatic reports.
Major victories for anticommunist guerrillas were reported in Herat, Afghanistan’s third largest city, ‘which has escaped Afghan regime control spite five ears of Soviet presence,” a diplomat said.
Soviet forces were trying to tie a noose around the strategic Panjshir Valley, the rebels’ major stronghold, which lies along the major supply route from the Soviet Union to the capital city of Kabul.
“The Soviet and Afghan forces have managed to clear the Alingar and Alisheng approach routes to Panjshir and if they seal Barikot too, they will have the valley surrounded,” one diplomat said.
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 to back the Marxist government and battle Moslem guerrillas trying to overthrow it.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 11 1985