Saturday, 15 Aug 2020

US conducts first air raids against Taliban since ceasefire ends

The two assaults took place since a rare ceasefire between the armed group and Afghan forces ended more than a week ago.

The United States military says it has conducted its first air raids against the Taliban since a rare ceasefire between the armed group and Afghan government forces ended more than a week ago.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban following the announcement on Friday.

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Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said one set of air raids took place on Friday afternoon in western Farah province, targeting 25 Taliban fighters who were attacking Afghan forces.

Hours earlier, on Thursday night, the US air forces struck an unknown number of Taliban in southern Kandahar province.

“These were the 1st US airstrikes against (the Taliban) since the start of the Eid ceasefire,” Leggett wrote. “We reiterate: All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold,” he added.

Leggett did not elaborate on the air raids or their targets. However, an Afghan government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press newa agency that three senior Taliban commanders and at least 13 other fighters were killed in the Farah attacks.

On May 23, the Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire with Afghan forces starting the next day to coincide with Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The government in Kabul welcomed the move and ordered its forces to comply with the ceasefire.

There has since been an overall drop in violence across the country, with the Afghan government accelerating the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners and saying it is ready to start the long-delayed peace talks with the Taliban.

Washington signed a landmark agreement with the Taliban in February, in which it pledged to withdraw all US troops in return for security guarantees.

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