Thursday, July 22, 2004

Algerian Forces In GSPC Offensive

Algeria's Le Matin today reports (link in French) on a still ongoing ANP (anti-terrorist units) led assault against Al Qaeda-linked GSPC strongholds in the region, now in its thirteenth day of operations. The battle seems to be focusing on an area east of Boumerdès (appr. 30 km east of Algiers), where yesterday soldiers ran into a minefield, wounding four. Helicopter support was called in, and units are combing the foresty area for other terrorists. Between Saturday and Monday, two terrorists have been captured and three others killed.

As part of the same offensive, ANP Units are reported to be surrounding GSPC strongholds in Ghzerwal, another 30 kilometers east of Boumerdès, and mortar bombardments by Algeria's regular army are underway southwest of Boumerdès, against GSPC positions in the area.

Two comments I want to make on this, first, it's being reported that Algeria is rolling up the GSPC, who, having lost their principal leaders, are said to be in disarray. Looking at the reports above, one might say this is in line, but two things keep bugging me. One, these are operations in areas quite close to the nation's capital, and secondly, apparently they have strongholds there. To me this doesn't seem like mopping up, but proof that the GSPC is receiving support and shelter from local populations, and is not limited to roaming around the desert in Toyota pickups.

I do believe Algeria is making headway in ridding the country of its terrorists. But the opposition seems much deeper rooted than one might think.