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U.S. Heightens Attacks Toward Peace in Afghanistan

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    Posted: 09-Feb-2019 at 9:28pm

The Pentagon has stepped up airstrikes and special operations raids in Afghanistan to the highest levels since 2014 in what Defense Department officials described as a coordinated series of attacks on Taliban leaders and fighters.

U.S. Heightens Attacks on Taliban Toward Peace in Afghanistan


The surge, which began during the fall, is intended to give American negotiators leverage in peace talks with the Taliban after President Trump said he would begin withdrawing troops and wind down the nearly 18-year war.

The campaign appears to have registered with the militants: During negotiations, the Taliban complained bitterly about the torrent of airstrikes, according to two senior Afghan officials who have spoken to Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy who is leading the talks.

"They say they have learned from their mistakes of the past," Mr. Khalilzad said in a speech on Friday in Washington. He said the Taliban did not want to be "a pariah state" and had told him that they did not see a military solution to the conflict.

The military strategy, devised by Gen. Austin S. Miller, the current commander of the American-led mission in Afghanistan, is similar to past attempts to bleed the militant group. But it is tied to a more specific ambition, coming as the United States is negotiating directly with the Taliban.

Last year, the United States dropped more than 7,000 bombs, missiles and other munitions on extremists in Afghanistan - up from 2,365 in 2014, military data show. Since September alone, the United States has launched about 2,100 air and artillery strikes in Afghanistan.

Additionally, American and Afghan commandos more than doubled the number of joint raids conducted from September to early February, compared with the same five-month period a year earlier, the military data show. Generally, the joint forces conduct dozens of raids each month.

And on Friday, reports of attacks on Taliban by Afghan and American units surfaced from Kandahar, Helmand and Nangarhar - including one that killed two low-level Taliban commanders and another that killed a Taliban intelligence chief.

The increase in lethal operations is not without cost to both American and Afghan forces.

In January, two American commandos were killed, and about two dozen have been wounded since General Miller took command in September - about as many as during the same period the year before, said two Defense Department officials who described the campaign only on the condition of anonymity.

Source: The New York Times


Edited by AfghanistanNews - 09-Feb-2019 at 9:33pm
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