HELMAND, Afghanistan — The Taliban prison in Nad’ Ali has been bombed, killing 22 and wounding three others; most of the victims are Afghan Security Forces personnel, said an Afghan Taliban spokesman. Additionally, another air strike in the same area has killed 24 Taliban members, including their commander, with 4 others being wounded.
The ISAF sources have denied civilian and captive casualties, while rejecting the Taliban spokesman’s statement. Colonel Michael Lawhorn, Resolute Support Director of Public Affairs at the headquarters of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Kabul, told ArmedPolitics in email interview: “We can confirm that U.S. forces conducted two air strikes in the Nad ‘Ali district, in the Helmand Province, on August 25th. We are aware of Taliban claims of Afghan casualties, but after a review of all the intelligence related to these strikes, from before, during, and after the strike, we are confident that there were no civilian casualties or captives”.
“One of the Taliban bomb-making factories in the area was destroyed”, read the statement released by Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, said that three of the Taliban guards were also killed in the air strike in Nadali. “The victims are the security personnel that were held by Taliban in the recent fight with security forces”.
The operations launched by Afghan Security Forces, backed by the coalition air support, have resulted in casualties on both sides in Helmand, the volatile province in the south of Afghanistan.
Earlier, the US Secretary of Defense had confirmed the loss of one coalition force personnel, with another one wounded in the battle in Helmand.
“We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and our NATO partners to bolster the capabilities of the ANDSF so they can provide the people of Afghanistan the peace they deserve”, says Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in his statement.
Helmand is well known for its poppy production, and experts are of the view that most of the money in the region comes through the black market, and goes into Taliban hands that boost the conflict.
Sadullah, one of the ANSF officials, told ArmedPolitics that the southern regions of Helmand that are connected to the Pakistan controlled Balochistan have spent so long in conflict because the Afghan Taliban, and other groups, have sanctuaries across the Durand line.
Another journalist, Safdar Dawar, who’s covered militancy from across Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, believes that the US drone and aerial support is proving to be a devastating tool against the militants.