Published: Tue, November 21, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

United States hits Taliban drug labs in Afghanistan under new strategy

United States hits Taliban drug labs in Afghanistan under new strategy

Ten drug labs were destroyed in a series of aerial bombardments in the poppy-rich southern province of Helmand - a Taliban stronghold - on Sunday night, said General John Nicholson, commander of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan.

Under the new strategy, which is not yet 90 days old, USA forces can "attack the enemy across the breadth and the depth of the battlespace", as well as their financial networks and revenue streams, the general said.

The Americans have led for the first time of the air raids against laboratories of heroin production in Afghanistan in order to attack the main source of income for the taliban, announced on Monday their military leader.

Nicholson said targeting the drug labs would "hit the Taliban where it hurts" and warned of more strikes to follow.

Nicholson said the Taliban makes an estimated $200 million annually producing opium, with 400 to 500 drug labs in the country.

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"We hit the labs where they turned poppy into heroin".

"Our combined operations over the last 24 hours are a demonstration of our will to defeat terrorists and those who support them, especially the narcotics networks", said Gen. Nicholson.

Opium production in Afghanistan has reached a record high of 810,000 acres this year - up 87 percent from last year, the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime reported last week.

"The Afghan government, considering the fact that it would be hard to ensure peace and stability without fighting the criminal economy, has taken serious decisions and measures to target the sources of narcotics processing and trade", Ghani said.

The United Nations announced last week that narcotics production almost doubled this year in Afghanistan to around 9,000 metric tons, showing a almost 90 percent increase compared with 2016.

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Nicholson said he has been given new authorities under the Trump administration's South Asia policy that allowed him to declare war on Afghan drugs and go after the enemy and all of their support, as well as revenue infrastructure across the country. "So, this money is going into the pockets of Taliban leaders who are living safely outside of the country", he said.

The strikes of the u.s. army were up to then of the insurgents themselves.

He also acknowledged India's positive role in Afghanistan and said that Afghanistan's export of agricultural products to India is a major push.

Since announcing his new Afghan strategy in August, U.S. President Donald Trump has sent an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. troops to about 14,000. The U.S. military has increased airstrikes against the Taliban as well as terrorists linked to the Afghan branch of Islamic State. Let me be clear", Gen. Nicholson said, "The U.S.is with you.

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