A U.S. rocket artillery strike last week on a gathering of Taliban leaders in southern Afghanistan killed at least 50 of them, a U.S. military official said Tuesday.
Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said a weapon system known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is capable of firing GPS-guided rockets, destroyed a command-and-control position that was a known meeting place for high-level Taliban leaders. He said at least 50 leaders were killed.
Additional, unspecified numbers of Taliban officials were killed in U.S. airstrikes over a recent 10-day period, the spokesman said.
The top American commander for the Middle East wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan’s winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It’s all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year.
The May 24 rocket artillery attack in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province was announced by the U.S. military last week, but without a public estimate of the numbers killed.