US Forces Conduct ‘Targeted Strikes’ in Helmand
The US forces in Afghanistan on Monday said that several targeted strikes were conducted in Helmand to support Afghan security forces under attack by the Taliban in the last few days.
The clashes are underway on the outskirts of Lashkargah city, the center of Helmand, forcing dozens of families to leave their homes in search for safe places.
“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 US forces-Afghanistan spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett.
Col. Leggett said USFOR-A has and will continue to provide support in defense of the ANDSF under attack by the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Gen. Scott Miller, US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, said the Taliban should immediately stop their offensive in Helmand.
“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 on Monday.
Local sources in Helmand said that the clashes happened in PD3 of Lashkargah city on Monday and also, they attacked three districts that are near the center of the province.
Footage shared by the Taliban on social media show that part of PD4 of Lashkargah city and Babaji area on the outskirts of the city have fallen to the militant group.
Different footage shows the Taliban destroying security force outpost on the outskirts of Lashkargah.
Some local sources confirmed that the national police and the local police force members at an outpost on the outskirts of Lashkargah city left their outpost without resistance. This might be one of the reasons behind low casualty of the Afghan forces in the clashes, according to sources.
“No resistance was made. They left their outposts,” said Abdulwali Patyal, a civil society activist from Helmand.
“It was a tactical retreat, but the Taliban has suffered casualties,” Helmand Police Chief Khalil-Ur-Rahman Jawad said.
Over 70 members of the Taliban have been killed in the clashes, based on information by the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi at a press conference in Kabul on Monday said more reinforcements are being sent to Helmand to suppress the Taliban.
“Increase in attacks reveal that the Taliban unfortunately is not accepting the demand of the people of Afghanistan, which is an enduring peace,” Sediqqi said.
Helmand residents said they remain concerned about the situation and that the need the government’s support.
“The Taliban has come to Chah Anjir area near our houses,” said Abdulwaai, a Helmand resident.
“People slept on roads. They lost their homes. They have no option,” said Samiullah, a Helmand resident.
The Taliban in their agreement with the US signed in Doha in February had committed to avoid attacking cities. Lashkargah attack is one of the biggest attacks of the group after the agreement.
But Qari Yusuf, a Taliban spokesman, told TOLOnews that they recaptured the areas that were taken by the government forces few months ago.
“Lashkargah has not been attacked so far,” Qari Yusuf said. “The areas that were cleared of the enemy were taken from by the Kabul forces some months ago.”
Sources in Helmand said that the Taliban has PD4 of Lashkargah under their influence.
Security officials have confirmed that clashes have happened in at least 20 provinces in the last few days amid the ongoing peace efforts in Doha.
Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) in a tweet said that a baby was killed in the ongoing clashes in Helmand last night.
“Fighting is on-going. Last night, a stray bullet hit a pregnant woman and killed the baby. Miraculously the mother survived and is now receiving maternal and surgical care after a life-saving operation”, MSF hospital coordinator Mariana Cortesi said.
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