50 Taliban leaders killed in US rocket strike in Southern Afghanistan

A U.S. rocket artillery strike last week on a gathering of Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan killed at least 50 of them, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said a weapon system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is capable of firing GPS-guided rockets, destroyed a command-and-control position that was a known meeting place for high-level Taliban leaders. He said at least 50 leaders were killed.

Additional, unspecified numbers of Taliban officials were killed in U.S. airstrikes over a recent 10-day period, the spokesman said.

The May 24 rocket artillery attack in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province was announced by the U.S. military last week, but without a public estimate of the numbers killed.

O’Donnell said that because of the large number of leaders killed and their involvement in a range of attack planning, the impact of the HIMARS strike “will be felt beyond Helmand province.” He called it an example of how the U.S. military is using expanded authorities granted as part of the Trump administration’s new regional strategy for fighting the Afghanistan war, allowing U.S. forces to take a more active role in combat.

U.S. officials have sought to compel the Taliban to enter peace talks by increasing the military pressure on them.
The Taliban are illiterate Islamic religious bigots who seem immune to reason.  The chances of persuading them to stop their pursuit of domination of the people are not good.  A US general indicates that some Taliban have indicated an interest in a peace plan.  Whether they can convince others is an open question.

This story indicates that a total of 70 Taliban were killed including the 50 leaders meeting in Helmand province.
During a Pentagon press conference from his office in Kabul Wednesday, Army Gen. John Nicholson told reporters the strikes would disrupt the insurgent group the U.S. military has been fighting for more than 16 years.

“Helmand has been the financial engine of the insurgency. The Taliban draws 60 percent of their revenue from narcotics (and) criminal activity,” Nicholson said.

But Nicholson played down the impact the strikes would have nationwide.

“I would not call it strategic significance, but it definitively has a significant local significance in terms of the fight in southern Afghanistan,” he said.
At a minimum, it was a setback for the Taliban.


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