The U.S. army in Afghanistan says it has killed greater than 70 senior Taliban leaders this month in a collection of “precision” strikes, dealing a significant blow to the insurgency.
An official announcement Wednesday listed particulars of the strikes performed over a 10-day interval ranging from Might 17 and hitting targets principally across the southern Afghan province of Helmand.
“The strikes characterize one of many largest blows to Taliban management within the final 12 months. The cumulative results of which can be felt nationwide for fairly a while,” stated U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, who instructions American troops and NATO’s non-combatant Resolute Assist mission within the nation.
In response to the U.S. assertion, the deadliest of theses strikes got here on Might 24, destroying a recognized Taliban command and management heart within the contested Musa Qala district the place a high-level assembly of rebel commanders was underway on the time.
Among the many greater than 50 individuals killed have been a deputy shadow governor of Helmand, a number of Taliban district governors, intelligence commanders, and key provincial-level management from a number of different provinces, together with Kandahar, Kunduz, Herat, Farah and Uruzgan, the assertion stated.
The U.S. army assertion got here shortly after Nicholson spoke to Pentagon reporters by way of video hyperlink from Afghanistan and stated the high-profile rebel assembly in Musa Qala had been convened to debate latest Taliban assault on the western metropolis of Farah.
“It seems prefer it was a gaggle of commanders assembly partially to debate the operation Farah that a lot of them had simply participated in, they usually clearly thought they have been assembly in relative security in Musa Qala however our intelligence was capable of determine the group,” Nicholson stated.
Different anti-Taliban strikes performed in Helmand targeted on districts equivalent to Sangin and Nahr-e-Saraj. They killed the provincial head of the so-called Taliban Pink Unit commando drive alongside together with his affiliate, a shadow district governor and a senior improvised explosive system (IED) facilitator, who has been coordinating assaults towards Afghan and worldwide forces.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, nevertheless, rejected as propaganda U.S. army claims the Might 24 strike hit an rebel assembly heart in Musa Qala. The assault, he asserted, focused two civilian homes close to the principle district market, killing 5 civilians.
Ahmadi went on to assert the buildings in query had nothing to do with the Taliban and not one of the rebel members have been damage within the assault. The Taliban has not supplied any fast touch upon strikes the U.S. army performed in different districts of Helmand throughout the 10-day interval.
The Taliban controls or contests a majority of the districts in Helmand, the most important Afghan province and a significant poppy producing area on the earth.
Nicholson stated the U.S. army is specializing in Helmand as a result of it has been serving as “the monetary engine” of the Taliban, with insurgents drawing 60 p.c of their income from narcotics.
The Taliban for its half additionally has intensified battlefield assaults throughout many Afghan provinces since launching its annual spring offensive greater than month in the past.
A number of sources, together with Afghan officers, have confirmed rebel assaults killed greater than 400 Afghan troopers and police personnel because the starting of Might. The conflict is predicted to accentuate within the coming months as there are not any indicators the Taliban is able to come to the negotiating desk to debate peace with the Afghan authorities.
“As we proceed the season of combating and speaking, we’ll proceed to extend strain on the Taliban and stay vigilant to alternatives for negotiated peace,” stated Nicholson.
Nicholson stated that some mid- and senior-level Taliban leaders are additionally participating with Afghan officers to debate reconciliation, however he stated that lots of the contacts have been going down “off the stage.”