ISLAMABAD - Army Chief General Raheel Sharif Thursday called on Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt and they discussed progress of the ongoing military in North Waziristan and other professional matters.

Gen Raheel was visiting the Air Headquarters in Islamabad. According to a private TV channel, during the one on one meeting the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Chief of Air Staff (CAS) agreed on certain strategies to make the operation more effective.

Pakistan Army in collaboration with the air force has launched a ‘comprehensive operation’ against foreign and local terrorists in North Waziristan. The operation branded as ‘Zarb-e-Azb’, literally ‘sharp strike/sharp cutting’ aims to target the terrorist hideouts there, the TV channel reported, quoting ISPR sources.

According to the security analysts, at a time when the terrorist are trying to restrict the movement of ground troops through IED’s the importance of air strikes has been increased. The meeting of the two chiefs is therefore very significant. The air force may increase its strikes during coming days so that the ground troops could penetrate deeper into the militant hideouts.

Meanwhile, at least 23 more suspected militants, including eight Uzbeks, were killed on Thursday in the ongoing Zarb-e-Azab operation launched by the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan tribal region.

According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public relations (ISPR), at least 15 suspected militants were killed in Zartatangi mountain heights, east of Miranshah in North Waziristan tribal region, late on Wednesday when one of the main suspected communication centres of militants was targeted by Cobra gunship helicopters of Pakistan Army.

Eight Uzbek militants who were planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on Miranshah-Mirali Road were also killed near Miranshah by military snipers.

The security forces also cordoned off residential areas sheltering suspected militants in North Wazirstan tribal region, ISPR added. The security forces claimed that several attempts of the militants to flee from the areas were foiled.

The evacuation of civil population from Miranshah and Ghulam Khan began on Thursday, and the IDP camp at Bannu was set up, ISPR added.

Check points have been established at various places where internally displaced persons (IDPs) are being provided with all administrative support, including food items and medicines, by the security forces. In addition, the number of registration points at the Saidgai post has been enhanced to 20, 10 each for males and females, for speedy and organised evacuation while an IDP camp has been set up at Bannu, a main city close to North Waziristan Agency, the ISPR added.