Afghanistan: Over 400 Taliban attacked army and police checkpoints in Hesarak District of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan. They killed six government personnel and wounded eight. The government claimed 60 Taliban were killed. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said this attack was similar to that in Sangin District in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
Comment: The government's figure for Taliban casualties normally is exaggerated by a factor of ten. The key point not mentioned in the press accounts is that the government forces apparently held the district center against a superior Taliban force, at least for a day.
This is the fourth district to be attacked by large Taliban forces in four provinces that are not adjacent. The Taliban are trying to achieve sensational effects that weaken confidence in the national government.
A more significant issue for the government is that Taliban commanders in widely separated areas are capable of assembling fighting forces in battalion strength to execute sensational attacks. The Taliban do not have to hold districts to undermine confidence in the government. They just need to keep attacking to prove that no district is secure.
Ukraine: US sources reported that Ukrainian forces have begun using short-range ballistic missiles with conventional warheads against separatist targets in eastern Ukraine. The Kyiv regime claims continued progress in securing the crash site of the Malaysian airliner and in the offensive to capture the city of Donetsk.
Comment: The western news media continue to cheer lead for Kyiv's forces, hindering an accurate sense of the security situation in eastern Ukraine. The separatists always appear to be on the verge of defeat, but somehow manage to hold on. Russian media also is heavily biased, but occasionally contains useful factual information. Today it reported that parts of Donetsk received artillery fire from Ukrainian forces.
The shelling reports represent admissions against interest, making them believable. Those reports indicate Ukrainian forces have made progress towards Donetsk. The Ukrainian generals hope to divide the separatist territory by capturing Donetsk.
If the Russians are providing military assistance to the separatists as the US government asserts, it appears to be making no difference in the fighting. If Ukrainian forces capture Donetsk, the secession will devolve into an insurgency, unless Russian forces intervene.