Commander of US-Forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson said a well-planned raid against drug producing facilities was carried out in Helmand on Sunday and that for the first time an F-22 bomber was used in combat in Afghanistan.
“We used an F22 Raptor aircraft that can carry 250lbs bombs and hits direct targets … in the attack on a drug processing factory in Musa Qala, Helmand (on Sunday night). F22 Raptor aircrafts were used for the first time in Afghanistan,” he said.
He made it clear that Afghan and US forces will continue attacking drug producing and trafficking operations, and promised the Afghan people that they will not only stand by the country in the fight against terrorism but will also stand by them in the fight against drugs. He reiterated the call to the Taliban to lay down their arms, join peace process and ensure better life for their families and children in society.
“We the US, the coalition forces are with you in the fight against the terrorists, your enemies are our enemies,” he said.
Nicholson also said a B-52 was used in Sunday night’s raid and completely leveled one drug producing compound.
The US commander stated that President Donald Trump’s new war strategy will bring renewed pressure on the Taliban and their safe havens as the approach was a conditions based strategy rather than a time-bound policy.
“The new US strategy on Afghanistan is conditions based not time bound, which means we will eliminate terrorists until the end.”
In a question about the UN’s report on the surge in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, he said: “We take any allegations about civilian causalities very seriously and we will investigate it seriously.”
He said that US-Forces are doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties during their operations.
He stated that Daesh remains the number one target in Afghanistan and that this group is completely rejected by the Afghan people. "Hunting down and killing their leaders will not stop" but Daesh continues an aggressive recruiting program, he said.
Nicholson said the fight will continue against Daesh until its complete elimination. But said that that there is no sign of Daesh fighters from Syria or Iraq migrating to Afghanistan.
The US commander also asked Pakistan to stop cross border shelling.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Chief of Army Staff General Sharif Yaftali said at the same press conference that the Taliban are criminal groups who benefit from narcotics in the country.