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US launches airstrikes against Taliban attacking Afghan security checkpoints

Two U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle jets fly in formation June 12, 2009, during a combat mission over Afghanistan. (Staff Sgt. Jason Robertson/U.S. Air Force)
June 05, 2020

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have carried out airstrikes in defense of an Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) outpost under attack by the Taliban Thursday.

The U.S. conducted two airstrikes in Afghanistan to disrupt coordinated Taliban attacks, Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said in a pair of tweets Friday.

“USFOR-A conducted 2 airstrikes on June 4 to disrupt coord. TB attacks on ANDSF checkpoints, IAW the US-TB agrmt. We reiterate: All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold. These were the 1st US airstrikes against TB since the start of the Eid ceasefire,” Leggett tweeted.

Overnight, USFOR-A conducted an airstrike against 25 armed TB fighters executing a coordinated attack on an #ANDSF checkpoint in Farah Prov. This afternoon, USFOR-A conducted a strike on TB fighters attacking an ANDSF checkpoint in Kandahar Prov.”

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Leggett noted the airstrikes were the first since the start of the “Eid ceasefire.”

The “Eid ceasefire” began on Sunday, May 24, BBC reported. Eid refers to the Eid al-Fitr festival, which celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The airstrikes come as the U.S. is working to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. The U.S. began a peace agreement with the Taliban in February, but while U.S. and Taliban forces have largely reduced conflict, the Taliban has continued to attack the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

In May, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper warned the Taliban was not living up to its end of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, which called for a reduction in violence.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement was put in place along with U.S. plans to withdraw troops after more than 18 years of conflict in the country.

The Military Times reported the Pentagon still plans to withdraw 8,600 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by July, but that the full withdrawal of troops is still being debated, amid the rise in Taliban violence and uncertainty about the potential for intra-Afghan peace talks.

Esper said troop withdrawal had “proven not to move as quickly as we’d prefer.”

“I don’t put a timeline on it. We have a timeline of May of next year but that timeline was premised on everything moving at a set pace,” Esper added.