U.S. massive bomber strikes insurgents' positions in N. Afghanistan

Li Jiayao

by Farid Behbud

KABUL, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber has joined Afghan and coalition aircrafts to pound insurgents' positions in northern Afghan provinces, authorities said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the death toll of insurgents climbed to 28 after a B-52 warplane struck an Islamic State (IS) terrorist group hideout in northern Jawzjan province, provincial deputy Police Chief Abdul Hafiz Khashi told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Earlier reports said that 13 IS militants lost their lives after the bombing which occurred in Sar Dara locality of the mountainous Darzab district in Jawzjan, 390 km north of Kabul.

Violence has escalated in the previously peaceful northern region over the last few years as Afghan forces together with troops of NATO-led Resolute Support and United States Forces-Afghanistan pushed against the militants in the south and east.

"United States Forces-Afghanistan launched a series of precision strikes in Northern Afghanistan in a direct effort to destroy insurgent revenue sources, training facilities, and support networks. Over the past 96 hours, U.S. forces conducted air operations to strike Taliban training facilities in Badakhshan province, preventing the planning and rehearsal of terrorist acts near the border with China and Tajikistan." the coalition forces said in a statement on Tuesday.

The strikes also destroyed stolen Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicles that were in the process of being converted to car bombs by militants, it noted.

"During these strikes, a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress dropped 24 precision guided munitions on Taliban fighting positions, setting a record of the most guided munitions ever dropped from a B-52." the statement said.

The aircraft has played a leading role in Air Force operations for decades, and was recently reconfigured with a conventional rotary launcher to increase its reach and lethality, the statement noted.

Those among the killed militants in Darzab of Jawzjan were four foreign militants, including one Iraqi and an Uzbekistani national, according to police Chief Khashi.

A detention center of the hardliner group was also destroyed in the air raid but no civilian was hurt during the course of the air attacks, Khashi noted.

However, the sorties caused panic among the residents, including a large number of women and kids in nearby villages.

IS group, which is active in Darzab and the neighboring Qush Tepa district of Jawzjan province, has yet to make comment on the report.

"The Taliban have nowhere to hide," Gen. John Nicholson, RS and USFOR-A commander in Afghanistan, was quoted in the statement as saying, "There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group bent on bringing harm and destruction to this country."

"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."

At the same time, ongoing strikes in southern Helmand province "continue to degrade Taliban revenue sources and safe havens," the coalition statement read.

The U.S. strikes and Afghan Special Security Forces (ASSF) raids have resulted in the removal of more than 30 million U.S. dollars of Taliban revenue since the campaign began in November, 2017, it said.



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