Afghan commandos with air support launched an operation in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, on Monday night, local officials said on Tuesday.
The operation is still ongoing and involves the 601 highway, Nad Ali district and the Babaji area in PD4 of Lashkargah, officials said. “So far 23 Taliban have been killed and the security forces have created five new checkpoints in Nad Ali district following the Taliban attack three days ago.”
“Six other Taliban were wounded during the operation,” officials added.
On Monday, spokespeople for US forces in Afghanistan said that several targeted strikes were conducted in Helmand to support Afghan security forces under attack by the Taliban in the last few days.
The clashes are underway on the outskirts of Lashkargah city, the center of Helmand, forcing dozens of families to leave their homes in search for safe places.
“Over the past two days US Forces-Afghanistan has conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand to defend the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) under attack by Taliban fighters, consistent with the US-Taliban agreement,” said US forces-Afghanistan spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett.
Col. Leggett said USFOR-A will continue to provide support in defense of the ANDSF under attack by the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Gen. Scott Miller, US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, said the Taliban should immediately stop their offensive in Helmand.
“The Taliban need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand province and reduce their violence around the country. It is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan peace talks,” Miller said on Monday.
Local sources in Helmand said that the clashes happened in PD3 of Lashkargah city on Monday and the Taliban also attacked three districts that are near the center of the province.
Footage shared by the Taliban on social media shows that part of PD4 of Lashkargah city, and the Babaji area on the outskirts of the city, have fallen to the militant group.
Different footage shows the Taliban destroying a security force outpost on the outskirts of Lashkargah.
Some local sources confirmed that the national police and the local police force members at an outpost on the edges of Lashkargah city left their position without fighting. This might be one of the reasons behind the low casualties reported among Afghan forces in the clashes, sources speculate.
The Taliban, in their agreement with the US signed in Doha in February, committed to not attacking cities. The Lashkargah attack is one of the biggest attacks launched by the group since the agreement.
Qari Yusuf, a Taliban spokesman, told TOLOnews that they were recapturing areas that were taken by the government forces a few months ago.
On Tuesday, US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson tweeted: "I strongly second Gen. Miller’s call for the Taliban to stop its offensive in Helmand and reduce its violence around the country" and the violence "is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement."
“It should stop so that all parties can move toward a lasting and much-needed peace for all Afghans,” Ross Wilson said.
The Taliban has not commented on the operation by the security forces.