Pentagon expands campaign against Taliban in Afghanistan

The Department of Defense said the 24 guided munitions it dropped from a B-52 as it shifted its campaign toward areas of Northern Afghanistan is a record for the aircraft.
By James LaPorta  |  Feb. 7, 2018 at 4:20 PM
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Feb. 7 (UPI) -- United States Forces-Afghanistan said they have launched a series of precision strikes in Northern Afghanistan as part of ongoing counter-revenue operations aimed at stemming the flow of narcotics and financial support to the Taliban.

The air campaign over the last four days has targeted Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, which officials say prevented the "planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan," the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

The Pentagon said strikes also targeted stolen Afghan National Army vehicles that were being converted into vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs. The weapons are similar to the kind seen late last month when the Taliban detonated an emergency vehicle packed with explosives in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing at least 95 and injuring more than 158.

"The Taliban have nowhere to hide," General John Nicholson, commander of United States Forces-Afghanistan, said in a press statement. "There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group bent on bringing harm and destruction to this country."

During strikes over the course of 96 hours, 24 precision-guided bombs were dropped from a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress aircraft, which the military said is "the most guided munitions ever dropped from a B-52."

Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, spokesman for Air Forces Central Command, told that F-16 Fighting Falcons from Bagram Air Base carried out the strikes against the stolen vehicles.

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.

The Pentagon says that since November 2017, operations against the Taliban have resulted in a loss of more than $30 million from the insurgency's revenue stream.

"The Taliban cannot win on the battlefield, therefore they inflict harm and suffering on innocent civilians," said Nicholson. "All they can do is kill innocent people and destroy what other people have built."

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