On Wednesday, Taliban militants killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and police in a string of attacks.
In reaction to an insurgent assault on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province Wednesday, an American military spokesman said, the US targeted Taliban fighters with an air strike for the first time in 11 days.
“The US conducted an airstrike on March 4 against Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand, who were actively attacking an #ANDSF checkpoint. This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack,” US Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Sonny Leggett tweeted.
Taliban militants killed at least 20 Afghan soldiers and policemen in a wave of overnight assaults, government officials told media sources Wednesday, hours after US President Donald Trump said he had a “very good” conversation with their political leader.
In recent days, the militants have escalated attacks on Afghan security forces, breaking a partial ceasefire that was put in place during the run-up to a historic US-Taliban withdrawal deal signed in Doha on Saturday.
The violence has put a shadow on the fragile Afghan peace process, with the taliban clashing with Kabul over a prisoner exchange ahead of talks due to start on March 10.
Trump told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that he had a “very good” relationship with Taliban political leader Mullah Baradar, according to the insurgents, with the pair talking on the phone for 35 minutes.
Trump praised the Doha agreement as a way to end the brutal, 18-year-old U.S. military presence in Afghanistan — just in time for his November re-election bid.
Under the terms of the deal, U.S. and other foreign forces must withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months, subject to Taliban security guarantees and an promise from the insugents to hold talks with the Kabul national government.
The deal also contains a promise to exchange 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by the Afghan Government in return for 1,000 hostages — something that the rebels cited as a precondition for talks but which President Ashraf Ghani declined to do before negotiations began.