The United States military in Afghanistan has launched air raids against the Taliban.
The air raids, according to the US military was aimed at supporting Afghan government forces amid heavy fighting in the southern Helmand province.
Fierce battles broke out in recent days after the Taliban attacked several security outposts on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.
“The US conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand across the past two days to defend allied Afghan troops as they came under attack by the group’s fighters,” military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said on Twitter on Monday October 12, 2020.
“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,” Leggett’s tweet said, quoting General Scott Miller, the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan.
The aerial attacks marked a rare military intervention by the US since it signed in February an agreement with the Taliban aimed at ending Washington’s longest war.
The document signed in Qatar’s capital, Doha, provides for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the armed group, and a pledge to sit down with the Kabul administration to find a peaceful settlement to decades of war.
After months of delays, these “historic” intra-Afghan talks kicked off in Doha in September but fighting has continued.
Omer Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor in Helmand, said Taliban fighters had started their coordinated attacks in different parts of the province over the past week and that these had intensified over the weekend.
“The Taliban have destroyed several bridges over the main highway, so the highway is closed right now and no one can travel,” said Zwak.
Helmand’s police chief General Khalil-ur-Rahman Jawad told reporters that “tactical measures have been taken to prevent casualties, but security will soon be restored.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the areas taken over by the group had been wrested from their control a few months earlier. “No new changes have occurred,” he said on Twitter.