US Airstrikes Target Taliban Fighters in Helmand Province

Airstrikes a rare direct attack on Taliban since US-Taliban peace deal was signed in February

The US carried out several airstrikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province over the past two days, a military spokesman said on Monday.

Since the US-Taliban peace deal was signed in February, direct fighting between US forces and the Taliban has been rare. As per the deal, the Taliban agreed not to attack US forces.

Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said these recent airstrikes were “consistent” with the US-Taliban peace deal. In the agreement, the Taliban also pledged to reduce violence and not to launch major offensives near urban areas.

Over the last few days, the Taliban have been attacking Afghan government security checkpoints outside Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province. This offensive served as the US justification for the airstrikes.

“The Taliban need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand Province and reduce their violence around the country. It is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan Peace Talks,” Gen. Scott Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Helmand’s police chief Gen. Khalil-ur-Rahman Jawad said that 170 Taliban fighters had been killed in the Afghan government’s counter-offensive.

For their part, the Taliban said they were reclaiming areas of Helmand Province that were lost to the Afghan government in recent months. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that the areas of Helmand the group attacked in recent days “are all areas taken from us during enemy operations a few months earlier.

Monday’s announcement was the first time since June that the US publicly admitted to launching airstrikes against the Taliban. Since fighting has been heavy between the Taliban and the Afghan government, it’s possible the US has launched more attacks that they have admitted to.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.