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US aircraft strike 11 Taliban narcotics production facilities in western Afghanistan

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces conducted strikes on 11 Taliban drugs production facilities in Farah and Nimroz provinces between April 3-5, USFOR-A said.

The airstrikes were conducted by U.S. F-16 fighters, A-10 attack aircraft and MQ-9 drones, and are the first in western Afghanistan in support of the counter-revenue campaign that targets “the Taliban’s primary means of funding its operations – narcotic production,” the Saturday, April 7 USFOR-A release said.

USFOR-A said the strikes took place as advisers from NATO’s Resolute Support Train, Advise, Assist Command-West were conducting an Expeditionary Advisory Package with the ANDSF in Farah province. TAAC-W teams ensure better coordination of operations against the Taliban in Farah.

Since the U.S. counter-revenue campaign against Taliban drugs facilities began in November 2017, 75 strikes have been conducted, “impacting narcotics processing that generates an estimated $200 million in revenue for the Taliban through production and taxation,” the release said.

“The Taliban will have no safe havens. We will continue to exploit their networks and decimate their ability to develop narcotics,” said Major General James Hecker, commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan. “They have become a criminal organization that profits from selling drugs and using those funds to conduct operations that maim and kill Afghans.”

US aerial war on drugs in Afghanistan fraught with risks

Hecker said the U.S. would continue to assist Afghan forces, sending the message to the Taliban that “they will not win on the battlefield.”

“The only way they can have a peaceful solution is to sit down and reconcile with the National Unity Government,” he said.

In February, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unveiled plans for possible peace talks with the Taliban in a bid to end decades of violence, while the Taliban called for direct talks with the United States to find a “peaceful solution” to the conflict in Afghanistan which it said “has been imposed upon us.” The Taliban’s muted response to Ghani’s peace talks plan reflects an internal debate over the merits of engaging with what it sees as an illegitimate government.

Ghani’s peace offer to the Taliban: A long shot, but worth a shot

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