New statistics show that the US Air Force has almost tripled the number of bombs dropped on bases belonging to insurgent groups in Afghanistan so far this year compared to the whole of last year.
According to the figures, the US military dropped 3,554 bombs against strongholds belonging to Taliban and Daesh insurgents in the country as of October 31 – compared to about 1,337 bombs last year. In 2015, only 947 bombs were dropped.
Meanwhile, General John Nicholson, the commander of US-Forces Afghanistan said that from amongst 20 drug mafia organizations in the region, 13 of them are operating in Afghanistan.
Nicholson on Monday also stated a wave of American airstrikes were carried out on Sunday night, targeting drug producing facilities in Helmand.
"We hit the labs where they turn poppy into heroin,” Nicholson told reporters in Kabul. "We hit their storage facilities where they keep their final product, where they stockpile their money and their command and control."
He said the strategy is to transition poppy farmers to agricultural farmers. "We are not striking farmers," Nicholson said. "They are held hostage by debt and threat of violence by the Taliban."
Statistics of the UN Office on Drug and Crime indicates that this year’s opium crop was the largest since the war began and 87 percent bigger than in 2016.
“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 Nicholson on Monday.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah said the Afghan security forces have successfully thwarted attempts by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, Haqqani network and Daesh to take control of key areas in the country.
“Our national security forces have effectively thwarted attempts by the Taliban alongside the affiliated Haqqani network as well as elements of al-Qaeda, Daesh and other recognized terror groups from making any notable gains or capturing a major urban center,” said Abdullah.
Nicholson has set a two-year target of getting the security situation under control, with a goal of 80 percent of the population under the control of the US-backed Afghan government — a figure he described as a “critical mass” to “drive the enemy to irrelevance.”
According to Nicholson, the Taliban leadership has been facing setbacks and that there are serious disagreements reported among the group’s leaders. He said the Taliban has realized that they will not be able to win the war and that the group has now resorted to conducting more suicide attacks.
“We are seeing signs of fraction and disagreement within the Taliban leadership ranks. They know they cannot win, they can’t win in the face of this growing capability, in September we saw them in the face of this tactical setbacks and changed their tactics, so they decided to stop attacking cities, stop attacks trying to seize and hold terrain and instead shift to suicide attacks and attempts to inflict casualties to prove their relevance. So this actually is a step back,” he said.