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US Launches Airstrikes in First Operation Targeting Afghan Opium


The United States has launched its first counter-narcotics military offensive in partnership with local allies in Afghanistan to try to deprive the resurgent Taliban of its largest source of funding. The move follows years of criticism that international forces are not doing enough to curb the opium trade. Speaking in Kabul Monday, General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. troops and NATO’s Resolute Support military mission, shared details of the coalition’s first overnight counter narcotics airstrikes. He said the bombing campaign destroyed major Taliban narcotics production facilities in Helmand, the main poppy producing southern Afghan province, depriving the insurgent group of major revenues. “Our estimates indicate that more than $200 million from this illegal economy was going into the pockets of the Taliban”, the general noted.


US Bombing Campaign in Afghanistan Intensifies, Hitting New High


The U.S. military dropped 555 bombs in Afghanistan against Taliban and Islamic State targets in August, the highest number in a single month since 2012. The U.S. has conducted about 2,400 airstrikes since the beginning of the year in support of Afghan partners battling the Taliban and IS terrorists, said U.S. Navy Captain Bill Salvin, spokesman for NATO’s Resolute Support mission in the country. The record increase in U.S. airstrikes comes as President Donald Trump last month unveiled his long-awaited new strategy for the 16-year-old Afghan war, the United States’ longest-running foreign military engagement. The Trump plan requires a modest troop surge and increased foreign airpower for Afghan forces so they could step up operations against the Taliban and IS loyalists, prompting concerns that intensified hostilities may cause more civilian casualties. The military “uplift” that President Trump announced, including increased airpower, has not had a significant direct impact as yet because most of it is in the process of coming into the (war) theater, said Salvin. Two American airstrikes in the last week of August killed at least 24 civilians and wounded 16 others, almost all of them women and children, according to a United Nations probe. The U.N. has already recorded a 43 percent rise in Afghan civilian casualties from aerial strikes in the first six months of 2017.

Taliban commanders among 25 killed, wounded in Helmand airstrikes


At least twenty five Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded during the air strikes in southern Helmand (province of Afghanistan), the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Monday. The three local Taliban commanders killed during the air strikes have been identified as Mullah Khaliqdad, Mullah Musafir, and Khayal Mohammad, MoD added. The air strikes targeted the hideouts of the insurgents that led to the casualties to the Taliban insurgents and four hideouts of the group were destroyed in total. The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far. Helmand remains one of the most volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 where terrorist related incidents are frequently reported from its various districts.

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