Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Afghan forces retake district in Helmand from Taliban

Afghan forces retake district in Helmand from Taliban

In a two-day operation launched on Saturday, the security forces took the district center of Nawa to the south of the provincial capital city of Lashkar Gah, killing more than 50 militants and destroying their vehicles and equipment, Defense Ministry spokesman, General Dawlat Waziri, was cited as saying by Reuters on Monday.

The insurgents have expanded their footprint in Afghanistan since US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, and the Taliban now control a number of districts across the country.

The operation also removed a threat to civilian aircraft landing in Bost Airfield, just outside Lashkar Gah. F-16 Fighting Falcons and AH-64 Apache helicopters, Afghan troops successfully wrested control of the district from the occupiers, reclaiming the district center earlier Monday, according to the release.

U.S. Marines with Task Force Southwest aided and advised Afghan forces in the recapture of the strategic Afghan district of Nawa, according to Major Kendra Motz, a spokeswoman for the task force.

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The U.N. says Afghanistan's protracted war killed a record number of civilians in the first six months of this year, blaming Taliban insurgents for most of the deaths.

Aided by surveillance drones and US strike aircraft, including F-16s and AH-64 Apaches, Afghan forces captured the district center on Monday.

There are no reports regarding the casualties during the clashes so far with the Taliban group yet to comment regarding the fall of the district.

Afghan police Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Omar said the United States air support was an important part of the operation.

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Afghan security forces and volunteers visit the scene of an attack in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, on January 10, 2017. In a New York Times report published July 14, Afghan Army Corps Operations Chief Lt. Col. Abdul Latif raised concerns about whether Afghan National Security Forces would be able to keep control of Nawa if they retook it.

Nawa has been used as a springboard to launch attacks into Lashkar Gah, officials said. The report also noted that most forces in Helmand are not local to the area, but come in from the north and east.

"It was a very successful operation in Helmand", Moqbal said of Maiwand Four in a statement.

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