Reinforced Afghan army begins operation in Sangin
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Afghan army reinforcements have reached the troubled Sangin district of southern Helmand province and have begun a clearing operation, police said on Tuesday.
Helmand police chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Rahman Sarjang told Pajhwok Afghan News the Afghan National Army (ANA) troops had pushed back Taliban insurgents attempting to overrun the district.
The army personnel had reached the district centre and had started operations, Sarjang said, adding that the soldiers would have a great effect on security. However, he did not provide figures for the fresh troops.
The police chief said 20 insurgents were killed and two policemen were wounded during last night clashes.
He said most of the rebels were hiding in civilian homes and used them as their bastions but they had decided not to strike such areas.
According to him, foreign forces had not taken part in the ground offensive but had conducted airstrikes. Security forces have so far carried out six airstrikes in Sangin district, he added.
Taliban have mined the area and the district bazaar has been closed due to insurgent attacks, but security forces were trying to demine the area and reopen the bazaar, he said.
“For improving security, we have hired some youth and they are being trained,” said Sarjang, who accused international drug mafia of prolonging the conflict and funding the insurgents. “But the victims are Afghan people.” He said some foreign countries were involved in drug smuggling.
The Taliban have lately overrun four districts of Helmand and clashes between security forces and Taliban are underway Sangin, a major poppy-growing district in Helmand.
Acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai had previously said reinforcements of special forces and commandoes had been deployed to Sangin, where a series of US airstrikes had taken place and a small contingent of British troops have been deployed as advisers.
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