At least five Taliban members were killed in the airstrikes carried out by the US over the past few days, reports Asian Lite News
The US carried out airstrikes across Afghanistan in the last several days as part of an effort to support the local administration in pushing back the Taliban, news agencies reported on Friday citing officials familiar with the matter in the Pentagon. As many as five Taliban insurgents have died in the strikes, local reports added.
With the Taliban increasing their advances in Afghanistan in the wake of the drawdown of American and Nato military forces, the United States has once again come to the aid of the Afghan security forces fighting the insurgents, the Pentagon said. “Without speaking to specifics, I can say that in the last several days, we have acted through airstrikes to support the ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) but I won’t get into tactical details of those strikes,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday at a news conference in Washington.
The Pentagon categorically refused to divulge too many details about the airstrikes. The local media in Afghanistan, however, stated that at least five Taliban members were killed in the airstrikes carried out by the US over the past few days. An unnamed American defence official, cited by CNN, said that the US military has so far carried out approximately six or seven strikes in the past 30 days, mostly using drones to launch the strikes.
The US airstrikes targeted “captured military equipment that the Taliban [were] able to seize from the ANDSF,” the official was quoted as saying.
The development comes in the backdrop of the Taliban sweeping across Afghanistan in recent days, pushing back the country’s military forces and taking over significant swaths of territory as the US nears the ends of its troop withdrawal.
The Taliban are putting pressure on 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capital, said General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Wednesday. Although he admitted that there is a possibility of a “complete Taliban takeover” of the country, General Milley asserted that “the end game is yet to be written.”
US delivers 3 refurbished military helicopters to Afghanistan
Amid the ongoing Taliban offensive, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday said that the United States has delivered three refurbished military helicopters to Afghanistan and such assistance will continue in the future.
Addressing a press briefing, Austin said, “We are going to provide on Friday three newly refurbished UH-60s landed in Kabul and they will continue to see a steady drumbeat of that kind of support going forward.”
“After August our focus is on those elements that present threats to the United States of America. So there will be counter-terrorism focus there.”
Since the US announced its withdrawal plans in May, Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in violence in the war-torn country. The pullout will be completed by August.
With the military withdrawal merely weeks away, the Defence Secretary said the US is doing a lot to support the Afghan military and Afghan leadership.
“Make no mistake that we remain committed to helping the Afghan security forces and the Afghan government going forward. And we are doing what we said we will do and putting the pieces in place to ensure that we can provide that support,” Austin asserted.
Answering a question of Al-Qaeda’s resurgence, he added “that is something that we are watching closely and we will continue to keep an eye on that. Our major focus going forward is that violence and terrorism cannot be exported from Afghanistan to our homeland.”
“Earlier, Taliban had committed to not providing support to Al-Qaeda. We expect them to meet that commitment.”
The Defence Department had said that the US will beef up the Afghanistan Air Force with 37 Black Hawk helicopters and help refurbish a large part of its fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters.
The US will also provide the Afghan armed forces three more Super Tucano strike airplanes, thereby, increasing their military edge over the Taliban forces, Defence spokesperson John Kirby added.