US, Afghan Airstrikes Pound Helmand as Taliban Gains Expand

Taliban denies claims of large losses inflicted in strikes


US and Afghan Air Force warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes in the Helmand Province overnight, the latest attempt to try to slow the Taliban advance into the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

Fighting has been ongoing in the capital for the past week, and is now centering on government buildings, as these are the last few parts of the city that haven’t already fallen outright. The government is promising a major counter-attack, and ordering civilians to flee. The civilians that are left by and large are unable to flee because of the close fighting.

The Afghan Defense Ministry claimed heavy casualties were inflicted, though the Taliban issued their own statement denying that this was the case. There was no sign that even with the strikes the government had recovered any territory.

Lashkar Gah is made up of 10 districts, and the Taliban control 9 of them almost entirely. The Helmand Province is considered a particularly valuable part of Afghanistan for the Taliban because of its role in the lucrative opium smuggling trade.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.