A US military spokesman has denied reports on Monday that a NATO air strike caused the death of at least 11 police officers and other staff members of the Interior Ministry's anti-narcotics department in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province.
"There were no strikes conducted by US or NATO forces in Helmand Province on September 6," Col. Brian Tribus said in a statement. He added that US forces carried out "kinetic strikes" in the Maiwand District of Kandahar Province on Sunday "to eliminate threats to the force."
Along with announcing the 11 deaths, an Afghan official reported that four were wounded on late Sunday in a NATO air strike carried out in southern Helmand province.
Speaking on Monday he said that the air strike occured just as an operation against drug-traffickers was in action. He spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to inform the media.
The Helmand provincial police chief also confirmed the air attack but did not give further details on who was responsible.
NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan was completed at the end of 2014, where it took the lead of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in August 2003. Although it withdrew a certain amount of its troops, 13,000 of them still remain for training and counterterrorism operations as part of a smaller non-combat mission that was launched in the beginning of 2015.
Therefore, Afghan forces are now fighting against the Taliban without the full support of US-led NATO forces.
After the announcement of the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar, the Taliban launched its annual summer offensive in late April.
Following a leadership argument, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, Omar's right-hand, was selected as Taliban’s new chief in late July.