MIL­I­TARY KILLS 70 AFGHAN TAL­IBAN LEAD­ERS

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

U.S. mil­i­tary forces in Afghanistan con­ducted ma­jor strikes against the Tal­iban this month, killing up to 70 ter­ror­ist lead­ers, the Pen­tagon an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

Bomb­ing raids and drone strikes were car­ried out for 10 days be­gin­ning May 17. A ma­jor part of the co­or­di­nated at­tacks took place May 24 and in­cluded the use of one of the Army’s new­est ar­tillery rocket sys­tems, the M-142 High Mo­bil­ity Ar­tillery Rocket Sys­tem, or HIMARS.

“These strikes rep­re­sent one of the largest blows to Tal­iban lead­er­ship in the last year,” said Army Gen. John Ni­chol­son, com­man­der of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and head of the oper­a­tion known as Res­o­lute Sup­port. “The cu­mu­la­tive ef­fects of which will be felt na­tion­wide for quite some time.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Pen­tagon, the precision strike May 24 was car­ried out in the Tal­iban strong­hold of Hel­mand prov­ince against a known com­mand cen­ter in Musa Qala dur­ing a meet­ing of high-level Tal­iban com­man­ders. The at­tack caused more than 50 Tal­iban casualties, in­clud­ing the deputy “shadow” gover­nor of Hel­mand, mul­ti­ple re­gional gover­nors, in­tel­li­gence com­man­ders and key pro­vin­cial lead­ers who had trav­eled from Kan­da­har, Kun­duz, Herat, Farah and Uruz­gan prov­inces, in ad­di­tion to Hel­mand.

A sep­a­rate airstrike car­ried out by Air Force A-10s May 24 hit a Tal­iban “Red Unit” com­man­der in Hel­mand who was in a ve­hi­cle trav­el­ing in San­gin prov­ince. A-10 jets also bombed a Tal­iban head­quar­ters in Nahr-e-Saraj a day later.

Then on Satur­day, an MQ-1C Gray Ea­gle drone at­tacked a se­nior Tal­iban bomb-maker in charge of co­or­di­nat­ing im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice at­tacks against Afghan Na­tional De­fense and Se­cu­rity Forces, and oth­ers in the coun­try over the past 13 years. The Gray Ea­gle is an im­proved ver­sion of the Preda­tor drone.

“Na­tional and in­ter­na­tional lead­ers have been clear — vic­tory in Afghanistan will be a po­lit­i­cal rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” Gen. Ni­chol­son said. “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.”

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