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$80m of drug money eliminated in coalition air raids

$80m of drug money eliminated in coalition air raids

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Dec 13, 2017 - 10:03

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Twenty-five illegal drug-processing laboratories have been destroyed during an American-led air campaign in southern Helmand province, a senior US military official says.

The airstrikes that began on November 20 were affecting cash flow to the insurgents, Air Force Brigadier General Lance Bunch told Pentagon reporters in a video call from Kabulinfo-icon on Tuesday.

He said: "This equates to almost $80 million of drug money eliminated from the kingpins' pockets, while denying over $16 million of direct revenue to their Talibaninfo-icon partners."

President Donald Trump's new South Asia strategy, allowing the US-led coalition to target the Taliban's command-and-control nodes, illicit revenue-generating ventures, and logistical networks, was paying off, he claimed..

Bunch said the fresh air interdiction drive directly strengthened the Afghan forces and their continued battlefield gains. He reckoned the militants earned $300 million to $400 million annually -- about $200 million from the production of heroin.

More than two tonnes of heroin and over 5.5 tonnes of opium were seized in two raids on narcotics bazaars, the official said, pledging to disrupt the rebel movement’s revenue sources.

Bunch, the Resolute Support Mission’s future operations division head, said: “Using air power, we have been able to target the Taliban in their so-called safe zones…”

“It's only just begun. This will be a very long winter for the Taliban,” he remarked, insisting they were taking the gloves off. The momentum had shifted in favour of Afghan forces over the past few months, he continued.

The US would stay in Afghanistaninfo-icon until the job was done, the commander said. "As General Nicholson has stated, we will be here until the job is done,” he said.

He said the coalition was going after Taliban’s weapons cache sites and their revenue generation sources. “It has definitely been a game-changer, and the Taliban are definitely feeling it.”

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