U.S. warplanes bomb Afghan opium dens

Security & Crime

Speaking in Kabul Monday, General John Nicholson, commander of USA troops and NATO's Resolute Support military mission, shared details of the coalition's first overnight counter-narcotics airstrikes.

Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan have launched a series of ongoing attacks to hit the Taliban where they are most vulnerable: their revenue streams.

U.S. warplanes have destroyed Taliban drug factories in southern Afghanistan, heralding a new strategy against the terrorist group's "narco insurgency".

U.S. army General John Nicholson told reporters from his headquarters in Kabul that the strikes aim to disrupt the Taliban's most lucrative revenue stream. In September, we saw them, in the face of these tactical setbacks, take a knee and change their tactics.

Gen. Nicholson said the global value of poppy cultivated in Afghanistan is in billions of dollars, and the Taliban earner up to $200 million from it on annual basis. "They suffered a significant amount of casualties from Afghan-led offensive operations", Gen. Nicholson said.

In a news conference with the Afghan army chief of staff, Nicholson said the Taliban were becoming a criminal organization.

The U.S. military estimates income generated from the illicit drugs is providing 60 percent of funds for the Taliban insurgency.

"Based on the new authorities I've received in the last 90 days with the USA policy announcement, we started developing targets immediately", Nicholson said. They fight, so they can keep profiting from their criminal activities: "narco-trafficking, illegal mining, kidnapping and murder for hire".

There are signs of friction and disagreements within the Taliban which has failed to meet any of their military objectives this year in Afghanistan, a top U.S. commander in the war-torn country today said.

Nicholson noted previous authorities required US forces to be operating in proximity to Afghan forces, so the USA forces could strike in defense of the Afghan forces.

The combined strikes yesterday were the result of many hours of planning and the result of trust and close cooperation between the United States and Afghanistan, the general said.

The four-star general said the strikes were part of President Trump's new policy for Afghanistan, which was rolled out in August and involves sending 3,000 additional troops to the country.

Almost half of Afghan opium is processed, or refined into morphine or heroin, before it is trafficked out of the country, according to USA and Afghan officials.

F-22 Raptors from Tyndall Air Force Base were used in a bombing mission against Taliban Drug producing facilities in Afghanistan this weekend. "This is extremely important going forward", said Nicholson.



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