US Air Force Conducts First Airstrikes Against Taliban Post Ceasefire Agreement

The US has confirmed conducting bombing campaigns against the Taliban this week. The airstrikes are the first in Afghanistan since the ending of the ceasefire between the Afghan government and Taliban fighters on May 26.

Colonel Sonny Leggett, the spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said that the airstrikes hit two different targets. The first strike took place in the early hours of Thursday and eliminated an unknown number of Taliban forces in the southern part of Kandahar province.

This was followed by another strike on Friday afternoon in western Farah province targeting 25 Taliban fighters who were attacking Afghan forces.

Leggett said that the airstrikes were the first against the insurgents since the end of the Eid ceasefire. He also added that for the peace talks to prevail, violence must be reduced on all sides.

While Leggett remained tight-lipped on the details of the operation, an Afghan government official was anonymously quoted by the Associated Press saying that three senior Taliban commanders and at least 13 other fighters were killed in the Farah attacks.

Although the Taliban refused to comment on the airstrikes, they did get involved with the Afghan forces on Friday. Afghan officials in southern Zabul province said the Taliban ambushed an Afghan police convoy after setting off a roadside bomb, killing 10 policemen.

Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the explosion destroyed several police vehicles. A subsequent shootout also killed four Taliban fighters, he said.

Violence in Afghanistan had seen an overall decline since the Taliban announced a surprise three-day ceasefire with Afghan forces starting on May 24 to coincide with Eid al-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The Afghans welcomed the move and ordered its troops to comply with the ceasefire. Since then, the Afghan government has accelerated the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners and said it is ready to start the long-delayed peace talks.

The American government had signed a landmark deal with the Taliban in February which pledged the withdrawal of all US troops in return for security guarantees.