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(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Long)

US to increase military presence in Helmand

AT News Report-KABUL: The US has decided a sudden increase in Marine presence in the volatile southern Helmand province to chase insurgency and destroy Taliban’s drug production factories in the province, an official says on Sunday.

Omar Zwak, the governor’s spokesman told Pajhwok Afghan News a US delegation headed by Marine Commander Richard Spiner arrived in Helmand on Saturday.

The US military team held meetings with Governor Hayatullah Hayat and other senior provincial officials at Shorab airbase where they discussed security situations in the province and necessary decisions were taken, he said, adding Maiwand Corps Commander Brig. Gen. Tarin, 505th Police Zone Commander Brig. Gen. Ghulam Daud Tarakhel and National Directorate of Security (NDS) head, Maj. Gen. Yasin Khan also attended the meeting.

According to Zwak, the Afghan security forces had gained the upper hand this year and militants were on the run in different parts of the country.

US Navy Commander Robert Neller commended progress made by the Afghan forces during the past few months, he noted, adding under its new strategy, the US would increase its military presence in Helmand, aimed at defeating insurgents and curbing drugs production and its smuggling.

The US commander reiterated America’s commitment to supporting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, saying more work is being needed to be done to bring more swaths of land under security forces’ control.

According to Neller, strengthening the Afghan security forces, rehabilitation activity and good governance were identified as the areas where further contributions by the US and other strategic partners are being needed.


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