MILITARY KILLS 70 AFGHAN TALIBAN LEADERS
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.”