Over 70 senior Taliban leaders killed US strikes in Helmand
AT-KABUL: The US Forces in Afghanistan conducted a series of precision strikes over a ten-day period, May 17-26, killing more than 70 senior Taliban leaders.
“These strikes represent one of the largest blows to Taliban leadership in the last year,” said U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and Resolute Support commander. “The cumulative effects of which will be felt nationwide for quite some time.”
The largest of these strikes came, May 24, when four High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rockets destroyed a known Taliban command and control node in Musa Qal’ah during a high-level meeting of Taliban commanders. Among the more than 50 casualties was the deputy shadow governor of Helmand, multiple Taliban district governors, intelligence commanders and key provincial-level leadership from Kandahar, Kunduz, Herat, Farah, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces.
In a separate airstrike the same day, U.S. Air Force A-10s struck a Taliban Red Unit commander for Helmand and an associate while they were transiting in Sangin district.
U.S. Air Force A-10s also killed a shadow district governor and destroyed a shadow district headquarters in Nahr-e-Saraj, May 25.
On May 26, an MQ-1C Gray Eagle killed a senior improvised explosive device facilitator, who has been coordinating improvised explosive device operations against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, international forces and the people of Afghanistan for the last 13 years.
Additionally, from May 17-26, more than 15 Taliban were killed in separate strikes around the province.
“National and international leaders have been clear – victory in Afghanistan will be a political reconciliation,” said Nicholson. “As we continue the season of fighting and talking, we will continue to increase pressure on the Taliban and remain vigilant to opportunities for negotiated peace.”
Tactical strikes against Taliban commanders and facilitators help the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces maintain an offensive edge and a high-operational tempo, providing security for the people in support of safe and secure elections.
Established in 2009, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan is a U.S.-led mission that directs and enables U.S. military operations in support of Resolute Support, NATO’s train, advise and assist mission. Its purpose is to sustain campaign momentum in Afghanistan. It is also tasked with executing responsibilities and oversight for manpower, material and logistics, basing and operational movement in the country, supporting a responsible economic transition that encourages a resilient Afghan economy.
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