Airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan kill 45 Taliban members, civilians: Officials

At least 45 people, including civilians and members of the Taliban militant group, have been killed in airstrikes by security forces in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Herat, officials say.

“Forty-five people had been killed so far in airstrikes by security forces in the Kham Ziarat area, Taliban were among those killed,” said Ali Ahmad Faqir Yar, the governor of Adraskan District, early on Thursday.

He added that at least eight civilians were among the dead, but did not give the precise number of Taliban members killed in the airstrikes, which targeted a locality in Guzara district late on Wednesday.

Separately, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement that it was investigating reports of civilian casualties in attacks by Afghan forces in the area.

“The results of the investigation will be shared with the public and the media. The National Defense and Security Forces have the responsibility to protect the lives and property of the people, in this regard, they use all the opportunities and facilities and will not spare any effort,” the statement said.

Six Taliban commanders “killed” in the strikes

Afghanistan’s TOLO news also quoted Jailani Farhad, a spokesman for the Herat governor, as saying that at least six key Taliban commanders in the region had been killed in the Wednesday strikes.

According to the spokesman, the regional commanders had gathered to make plans for attacking government installations, when they were targeted in the strikes.

Farhad added that a number of Taliban members were also wounded in the strikes and their weapons caches were destroyed.

The United States and the Taliban reached a “peace deal” in late February. Under the agreement, the US will withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and the Taliban will refrain from attacking international occupying forces.

The militants have made no pledge to avoid attacking Afghan forces and civilians. Official data shows Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since then. The United Nations (UN) has also warned of an alarming rise in violence against civilians in Afghanistan.

The Taliban militants had refused to recognize the Afghan government until they reached the deal with Washington.

The Afghan government was a party neither to the negotiations nor to the deal, but it has been acting in accordance with its terms, including by agreeing to free Taliban prisoners. The militants have not stopped attacking government targets and civilians.

The US and a number of its allies invaded Afghanistan to topple a Taliban regime in 2001, accusing it of harboring the al-Qaeda terrorist group. The militants now control or hold influence over more Afghan territory than at any point since the invasion.

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