New Air Campaign Expands to the North > U.S. Central Command

09 February, 2018, 08:24 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Image      The B-52 'Stratofortress' has been operated since the 1950s. File pic

They include 18 F-16s, 12 A-10 "Warthog" Thunderbolt II close-air support aircraft, half a dozen armed Reaper drones and a steady rotation of B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers that fly in from bases outside Afghanistan.

The operations, conducted near the border with China and Tajikistan, hit Taliban training facilities which the militant group used to plan and rehearse terrorist acts.

The United States has started shifting combat and intelligence-gathering air assets to Afghanistan as the battle against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group is winding down in Iraq and Syria, a top commander in Afghanistan says.

In addition, he said, US forces had added A-10 attack planes and will soon be adding more search-and-rescue aircraft.

United States Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement that the strikes targeted Taliban training bases and stolen Afghan National Army vehicles which were being converted into auto bombs.

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Late previous year, Gen. Nicholson said the Taliban has three choices, "Reconcile [with the Afghan government], live in irrelevance, or die".

Beginning Feb. 2, American B-52 bombers dropped a record-setting 24 precision-guided munitions against Taliban-affiliated training and narcotics facilities in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan.

US forces have remained as part of a NATO-led coalition ever since, although active combat operations were turned over to Afghan forces in 2014, and global troop levels have fallen from a peak of more than 100,000 to about 16,000.

The Washington Post reported that the B-52s are not based in Afghanistan - instead flying from Al Udeid air base in Qatar, which is just south of Bahrain.

"While U.S. air power is destroying Taliban support elements in the deep fight, Afghan A-29 [Super Tucanos] and MD-530 helicopters provide quick, lethal support to Afghan ground forces in the close fight", Hecker said.

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Tolo News quoted Nangarhar National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Wednesday as saying, "the group was involved in destructive and terrorist activities in Khogyani district".

"The Taliban can not win on the battlefield, therefore they inflict harm and suffering on innocent civilians", said Nicholson.

The service in April dropped the most powerful conventional bomb in the us arsenal - the 21,600-pound GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), nicknamed "mother of all bombs" - in Afghanistan in the first-ever use of the munition in combat. "All they can do is kill innocent people and destroy what other people have built".

The Pentagon's refocus officially began on February 1.

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