The U.S. Marines reported the elimination of dozens of Taliban leaders whom they tracked to a large meeting in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the Pentagon said.
U.S. Forces in Afghanistan reported that more than 50 Taliban senior leaders, including the deputy Taliban shadow governor of Helmand, was killed in a targeted strike using rocket artillery. Terrorist leaders from six Afghani provinces were also killed in the strike that occurred in the Musa Qala district of Helmand, according to Fox News.
Fox also reported that 20 more Taliban leaders were killed in airstrikes this month by drones and Air Force A-10 Warthog jets, forces that form part of a ramped up presence around Kandahar.
Army Gen. John Nicholson insisted that the culling of the 70 jihadi leaders will seriously disrupt the various groups and their military capabilities.
While saying the successful targeting may not yet have a major strategic significance overall, Nicholson noted that “it definitively has a significant local significance in terms of the fight in southern Afghanistan.”
The latest strike has been part of a larger effort to take out enemy strongholds. April saw the second highest number of airstrikes than any in the past six and a half years, the Pentagon said. Many of the strikes have also targeted the Taliban’s drug labs.
President Trump doubled the troop presence in Afghanistan to about 15,000 U.S. troops.
Nicholson also noted that the Taliban has stepped up their attacks with an announced spring offensive, but violence is still about ten percent under levels seen last year.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.