WASHINGTON – U.S. Special Forces are fighting Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan and are searching for pockets of militants along the border of Afghanistan, Fox News has confirmed.
Small groups of U.S. soldiers based on the Afghan side of the border have been attacked several times a week over the last month and have been in several firefights with Al Qaeda militants, The Washington Post reported in Thursday's edition, citing unidentified U.S. military officials.
No Americans have been killed, but some have been wounded, the Post reported.
U.S. forces have found only small pockets of Al Qaeda forces since the end of a weeklong ground and air assault in the Shah-e-Kot valley south of Kabul, the Afghan capital. Since then, the military has been quiet on whether U.S. forces are operating in Pakistan, where many Al Qaeda fighters are believed to have fled.
In the Afghan regions, members of the Special Forces and Delta Force have been deliberately exposing themselves to attack to draw out the small pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters believed to be hiding in the border area, the Post said, citing military officials.
U.S. officials earlier had said the Pentagon was considering sending U.S. advisers to work with Pakistani troops in the pursuit of enemy fighters in Pakistan.
A senior administration official said it was his understanding that an agreement may already have been reached, but another official said the two countries had not yet reached that point.
Asked about a New York Times report that an agreement has been reached, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke declined comment except to say that Pakistan has been very helpful in the war on terrorism.
"The cooperation continues to get better and better all the time," she said.
At issue is a strategy to deal with hundreds of Al Qaeda and Taliban militants who are believed to have taken refuge in a lawless region near the Afghan border.
One official said Pakistan, concerned about public opinion, was reluctant to acknowledge contacts with the United States about joint military cooperation in tracking down terrorists.
He noted that Pakistani authorities traditionally have been reluctant to engage in law enforcement activities in the area, preferring to leave policing to local tribal authorities.
Pentagon officials have indicated for months that they think it is unlikely that Pakistan would agree to joint military operations in pursuit of suspected terrorists inside Pakistan, and some have said they believe it would be unwise because of a likely political backlash.
The approach taken by Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan, has been to coordinate and consult with the Pakistani military in pursuing Al Qaeda fugitives, but to let the Pakistani authorities carry out the operations.
The main U.S. role has been in providing intelligence and law enforcement support, rather than direct military involvement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.