Over 70 Taliban leaders killed by US Marines in Afghanistan
Last week, over 50 Taliban commanders were killed by rocket artillery courtesy of the US Marines. The Taliban leaders were tracked to a meeting in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan, according to the top American general in Afghanistan. An additional 20 Taliban leaders were eliminated during a series of air strikes, bringing the total to more than 70.
Among the dead was the deputy Taliban shadow governor of Helmand. Leaders from six other provinces, aside from Helmand, were also present at the meeting and killed in the strike, according to a statement from US Forces Afghanistan.
The air strike involved the use of drones as well as Air Force A-10 Warthogs that were based in Kandahar.
During a Pentagon press conference, according to a report by Fox News, Army Gen. John Nicholson confirmed the deaths, telling reporters that the strikes were designed to disrupt an insurgent group that US forces had been battling for over 16 years.
“Helmand has been the financial engine of the insurgency,” said Nicholson. “The Taliban draws 60 percent of their revenue from narcotics [and] criminal activity.”
Nicholson did not claim that the strikes would impact the entire nation, stating, “I would not call it strategic significant, but it definitively has a significant local significance in terms of the fight in southern Afghanistan.”
Last month, US military forces launched the second highest number of airstrikes in Afghanistan in the last six and a half years.
As activities wind down in Iraq and Syria, operations have been ramped up in Afghanistan. In total, 562 more air strikes took place in Afghanistan in April than in Iraq and Syria combined during the previous two months. Many of the strikes targeted drug labs operated by the Taliban.
There are approximately 15,000 troops currently in Afghanistan.