U.S. airpower killed more than 220 Taliban over the past four days, as its fighters tried to overrun the southeastern Afghanistan city of Ghazni last week, according to a spokesman for the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan.
“From a U.S. Forces-Afghanistan perspective, U.S. airpower has killed more than 220 Taliban since August 10,” said Resolute Support spokesman Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell.
He said the U.S. conducted an initial strike on Friday, and conducted five strikes on Saturday, 16 strikes on Sunday, and ten on Monday.
He said U.S. Army Apache helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Combat Aviation Brigade provided close-air support on Friday, Sunday, and Monday.
The use of U.S. airpower in the fight for one city shows how serious the Taliban assault on Ghazni was. A New York Times report on Sunday said the Taliban launched four separate attacks across Afghanistan in recent days, with Ghazni the worst hit.
According to the report, more than 100 Afghan police officers and soldiers were killed in Ghazni by Sunday. About 100 more were killed in different areas.
Former Pentagon official Oubai Shahbandar, who also served as a civilian in Afghanistan, compared the attack to the Tet Offensive:
— Oubai Shahbandar (@OS26) August 12, 2018
O’Donnell said U.S. forces were also assisting Afghan forces on the ground. He described an effort that involved three separate U.S. military outfits.
“In terms of Resolute Support assistance to the Afghan-led clearance operation, Task Force-Southeast, U.S. Special Forces and 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade advisors are providing advice on things such as clearance operations and combined-arms integration,” he said.
He said Ghazni remains under Afghan government control, though there are still Taliban “remnants” in the city.
“These insurgent forces do not pose a threat to the city’s collapse. However, the Taliban who have hidden themselves amongst the Afghan populace do pose a threat to the civilian population, who were terrorized and harassed,” he said.
“The Taliban, who falsely and repeatedly claim that they do not target civilians, have executed innocents, destroyed homes, burned a market, and created the conditions for a potential humanitarian crisis with this attack.
“Clearly the Taliban have paid no heed to the calls of the Afghan people for them to reconcile and join the peace process,” he said.