The air strikes, carried out over the last two days, mark a rare military intervention by the United States since it signed an agreement on troop withdrawal with the Taliban in February.

An Afghan police officer inspects the wreckage of a car at the site of a truck bomb blast in Ghani Khel district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, October 3, 2020.
An Afghan police officer inspects the wreckage of a car at the site of a truck bomb blast in Ghani Khel district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, October 3, 2020. (Reuters)

American forces have over the past couple days conducted several air strikes in support of Afghan security forces under attack by Taliban in the southern Helmand province, the spokesperson for the US military in Afghanistan has said.

The strikes, carried out over the last two days, mark a rare military intervention by the United States since it signed an agreement on troop withdrawal with the Taliban in February.

The deal provides for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the insurgent group, and a pledge to sit down with the Kabul administration to find a peaceful settlement to decades of war.

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Fighting continues

Fighting has continued despite several rounds of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators in the Qatari capital Doha over the past month.

In the last two days, hundreds of Taliban fighters have stormed security checkpoints in Helmand, taking over key areas on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

US military spokesperson Colonel Sonny Leggett said on Twitter on Monday that the US air strikes were "consistent with the United States-Taliban agreement," and that Afghan security forces would continue to be provided with defensive cover.

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Taliban urged to halt offensive

Leggett quoted General Scott Miller, the commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan, calling on the Taliban to immediately stop their offensive in Helmand, which he said was "not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan Peace Talks."

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the areas taken over by the group had been wrested from their control a few months earlier. "No new changes have occurred," he said on Twitter.

Helmand's police chief General Khalil-ur-Rahman Jawad told reporters that "tactical measures have been taken to prevent casualties, but security will soon be restored to restore order."

He said the Afghan Air Force had conducted strikes that had killed 170 insurgents in the last 24 hours.

Fighting continues in the province. Around 1,500 families have fled from the outskirts of the provincial capital. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies