42 Taliban killed by Afghan forces in major assault
In a major assault to retake lost territory, the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has killed 42 Taliban militants in restive Helmand province, officials said Monday.
The provincial government in Lashkargah city said in a statement that the raids were conducted Sunday night on the militants' hideouts in Nawa district.
Backed by the Allied forces, the Afghan forces also conducted a ground operation to reclaim the district from the militants.
"Haji Ahmad, Faizi and Haqbeen, three Taliban commanders are among the dead," the statement read, adding vast areas of the district had been cleared.
Abdul Salam, spokesman for the provincial police headquarters, told Anadolu Agency the Afghan Special Forces killed 42 militants and wounded 27 others in the operation. "Our aim is to retake all lost territory, and eliminate threats posed to the provincial capital, Lashkargah," he said.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) vowed to retake all lost territory from the militants with the ongoing "Khalid Offensives". The MoD admitted eight districts across the country remained under the control of the militants.
However, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. watchdog, estimates that the Taliban controls 11 districts and influences 34 of Afghanistan's 407 districts (11 percent), while the Afghan government controls 97 districts and influences 146 (60 percent). In its most recent quarterly report to U.S. Congress, SIGAR noted that 27% of Afghanistan's districts remain contested.
Helmand remains a strong bastion for the Taliban who is waging an armed rebellion against the Afghan and Allied forces since their regime was toppled in 2001.