US sends jets to Afghan city under siege

Afghan security forces battle Taliban militants in the northern Kunduz Province since the group announced spring offensive five days ago

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The U.S. military has sent fighter jets to Afghanistan's northern province of Kunduz, where Taliban fighters have launched a major offensive, US and Afghan sources said.

The US military declined to say why the jets had been dispatched to the area, but confirmed they were on a mission outside regular operations.

"We can confirm there were U.S. jet aircraft flying in the Kunduz area in the past 72 hours, no munitions dropped," a U.S. military spokesman said. He declined to comment further.

The Afghan government has rushed thousands of troops to Kunduz in recent days. An entire battalion of the Afghan National Army was reported to be surrounded by the militants, and the authorities stripped troops from other provinces to reinforce Kunduz.

The Taliban have targeted four districts surrounding the city, displacing nearly 2,000 families, according to provincial council members. The militants have taken over Gortepa, a suburb of the capital, just about three miles from the provincial government offices, said Qadir Hussainkhel, a former head of the council.

Taliban announced the start of its annual spring offensive on April 24. President Ashraf Ghani delayed a trip to India on Monday for an emergency meeting with his military leaders and the American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell.

Two air strikes were conducted in the province, the interior ministry said in an internal report, including one in the city district.

The coalition combat mission in Afghanistan ended last year, and only a small contingent of around 1,800 US counter-terrorism troops are still involved in combat operations.

Last year the US military said it would no longer support Afghan security forces in routine combat operations, except "in extremis", or in emergencies.

TRTWorld and agencies