Afghan forces retake area in south lost to Taliban


Afghan forces have retaken control of a district centre in Afghanistan's embattled southern Helmand province on Sunday after it fell to Taliban militants in October, officials said.

The joint operation, which kicked off on Saturday morning to drive the Taliban out of Nawa, killed and wounded dozens of Taliban militants, Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry, told the media during a press conference televised live.

Radmanish said the clearance operation was still ongoing in the northern and southern parts of Nawa while Afghan forces cleared the district centre of mines and homemade bombs.

Confirming the retake, Razia Baluch, a provincial council member from Helmand, said the success of the operation will only mean something if the Afghan forces are able to hold the district.

Haji Abdul Ahad Sultanzoy, another council member from the province, said that although Afghan forces met little resistance in taking the district back, too many landmines and homemade bombs were planted in the district centre for the forces to move fast.

The successful operation marks a strategic win for the Afghan forces as they have been losing ground in the poppy capital of the country since the end of NATO's combat mission in 2014.

Ninety per cent of all opium produced in Afghanistan usually comes from war-stricken Helmand. The region's opium production is a key source of financing for the militants.

Eighty per cent of territory in Helmand is controlled by the Taliban, with the provincial capital encircled.

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