Military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said in a tweet the “defensive” strike was the first US attack against the militants in 11 days. The aim was to counter a Taliban assault on Afghan government forces in Helmand province.

Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal with US in Afghanistan in Alingar district of Laghman on March 2, 2020.
Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal with US in Afghanistan in Alingar district of Laghman on March 2, 2020. (Noorullah Shirzada / AFP)

The US conducted on Wednesday its first air strike against Taliban forces in Afghanistan after signing an ambitious peace deal with the militant group in the Mideastern state of Qatar.

US military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said in a tweet that the “defensive” strike was the first US attack against the militants in 11 days. He said the attack was to counter a Taliban assault on Afghan government forces in Nahr-e Saraj in the southern Helmand province.

Leggett added that Taliban forces had conducted 43 attacks on Afghan troops on Tuesday in Helmand.

Elsewhere the insurgents killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and policemen in a series of overnight attacks in other provinces, government officials said on Wednesday.

According to a spokesman for the province's governor, Omer Zwak, at least two police officers were killed and one other was wounded in the Washir district of southern Helmand.

Leggett called on the Taliban to stop the attacks and uphold their commitments based on the agreement signed on February 29 between their leaders and US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, Qatar, which lays out a conditions-based path to the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.

The Afghan Defence Ministry said in another statement on Thursday that a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in northern Kunduz province had killed seven of its soldiers.

The statement said that ten Taliban fighters were killed in the shoot-out.

Kandahar police spokesman Jamal Naser Barakzai said that a police officer was killed and one was wounded in a string of Taliban attacks across the province.

Trump chats with Taliban, 

US President Donald Trump confirmed on Tuesday that he spoke on the phone to a Taliban leader, making him the first US president believed to have ever spoken directly with the militant group responsible for the deaths of thousands of US troops in nearly 19 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has not claimed responsibility for any of these attacks so far or commented on the US air strike Wednesday.

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Wednesday that a week of reduction in violence that started midnight on February 21 had ended.

Based on the US-Taliban deal, peace negotiations between the warring Afghan sides are supposed to begin on March 10. 

However, the Afghan government has already rejected releasing Taliban prisoners ahead of launching the talks, a precondition which the militants say was part of the US agreement.

Leggett said that US forces are responsible for defending their Afghan allies according to agreements between US and Afghan governments.

Source: AP