US Launches Airstrikes on Taliban in Afghanistan's Helmand Despite ‘Peace’ Deal
Story Code : 891936
“Over the past two days, US Forces-Afghanistan has conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand to defend the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) under attack by Taliban fighters, consistent with the US-Taliban agreement,” said the Spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), Col. Sonny Leggett, on Monday, referring to a Southern Afghan province, presstv reported.
He added that the US military would continue to “provide support” to defend Afghan forces under attack by the Taliban.
The commander of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, demanded an immediate halt to the Taliban offensive.
“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,” Miller said.
The US struck the deal with the Taliban in February, after almost two decades of fighting the militants in Afghanistan. The deal provides for the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the militants, and a pledge that they hold talks with the Kabul government to find a peaceful settlement to their own war.
Fighting has, however, continued despite several rounds of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government in the Qatari capital of Doha over the past month.
Commenting on the clashes in Helmand, Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote in a Twitter post on Monday that the areas captured by the group during their new offensive had been snatched from them a few months earlier.
“No new changes have occurred,” he claimed.
The latest fighting came just two days after at least five people were killed in a Taliban roadside bomb attack in the Gereshk district of Helmand.
According to local reports, clashes were still continuing on the outskirts of the provincial capital city of Lashkargah, forcing the displacement of hundreds of families.
Reports also said that Afghan security forces had retreated from their positions in the face of the Taliban offensive. Helmand Police Chief Khalil-Ur-Rahman Jawad confirmed the reports, saying, “It was a tactical retreat, but the Taliban has suffered casualties”.
Jawad said Afghan fighter jets had conducted airstrikes against Taliban positions, killing 170 militants in the past 24 hours. He said security would be restored soon.
Afghan presidential Spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said during a Monday press conference in Kabul that reinforcements were being deployed to Helmand to suppress the Taliban attack.
“Increase in attacks reveal that the Taliban unfortunately is not accepting the demand of the people of Afghanistan, which is an enduring peace,” he said.