Airstrikes carried out by Afghan and NATO forces have killed dozens of Taliban fighters, according to Afghan sources. The strikes occurred in the southern Sangin district, which has seen intense fighting all week.
According to Afghan officials, the battle for the Sangin district in the southern Helmand province has taken a turn in their favor after overnight airstrikes on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the NATO mission in Afghanistan confirmed that US planes had conducted airstrikes overnight. Afghan officials confirmed that Afghan forces had added their own airstrikes as well.
The exact death toll remains unclear, but some Afghan officials are claiming as many as 60 Taliban fighters were killed by the airstrikes.
Although the Taliban has claimed twice this week that Sangin was in their control, Afghan government forces maintain that they have not lost Sangin. Helmand is a strategically-important province with major supply routes for the opium trade and its proximity to Pakistan.
Despite the small government gains in Sangin, large parts of Helmand remain under Taliban control. Civilians are fleeing the area after fears grew that the Taliban could capture the entire southern province. Afghan officials are working with NATO to quickly regain control of the region before it completely falls to the Taliban.
In addition to the airstrikes, Afghan officials conducted air drops of food and ammunition for government forces and civilians on the ground in Sangin.
mz/ (AFP, dpa, AP)