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United States warplanes bomb Afghan opium dens

21 November 2017

They failed to take any cities, as they've attempted for the last two years, General John Nicholson, Commander of the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan told reporters during a conference call from Kabul.

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.

Nicholson said the operation was the first "significant" time he had used the new authorities.

USA warplanes have destroyed Taliban drug factories in southern Afghanistan, heralding a new strategy against the terrorist group's "narco insurgency".

Nicholson said the goal, if achieved, would give the Kabul government greater legitimacy and would ensure credible general elections in 2018 and a presidential vote in 2019.

Nicholson said the Taliban makes an estimated $200 million annually producing opium, with 400 to 500 drug labs in the country. "We are not striking farmers, they are held hostage by debt and threat of violence by the Taliban", he said.

"To some extent it's fair to say that this movement has evolved into a narco-insurgency so their profits from narcotics now exceed their operating expenses", he said.

General Nicholson characterized the Taliban as a criminal drug organization masquerading as religious and political leaders.

In Afghanistan, the opium economy nearly doubled in 2016, to about $3 billion, and amounted to around 16 percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

"Narcotics revenue represents the largest single source of funding for the Taliban and as we know the Taliban are making more money than they need to fight their campaign".

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.

USFOR-A started developing targets immediately after the US policy announcement this past summer that granted new authorities to the command.

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. "This operation involved thorough preparation to gain deep insights into Taliban narcotic processing labs and their locations". These strikes are the first use of those authorities that allow US forces to actively pursue terrorist elements and attack them offensively in collaboration with Afghan forces.

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

"There is nothing true in there, there was no site of production there",-he said. Let me be clear", Gen. Nicholson said, "The U.S.is with you.

United States warplanes bomb Afghan opium dens