The U.S. military has expanded its renewed air war in Afghanistan, striking targets in northeastern Afghanistan affiliated with the Taliban and another small militant group that is known for its roots in China, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.
The operations, conducted near the border with China and Tajikistan, hit Taliban training facilities which the militant group used to plan and rehearse terrorist acts.
ISIS has "metastasized" in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, home to the highest concentration of US -designated terrorist groups in the world, top Trump administration officials told the Senate committee.
The B-52 is capable of carrying 70,000 pounds of munitions, which range in weight from around 500 pounds for a conventional bomb to roughly 2,000 pounds for a precision-guided weapon.
United States Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement that the strikes targeted Taliban training bases and stolen Afghan National Army vehicles which were being converted into auto bombs.
The Air Force significantly stepped up its bombing campaign in Afghanistan previous year, dropping 4,361 bombs, compared with 1,337 in 2016, according to data released by the service.
The B-52s are not based in Afghanistan but carry out operations there from Al Udeid air base in Qatar.
"The CRL is essentially a revolver in the bomb bay that turns and jettisons precision munitions one at a time", Pickart said.More news: $560M Lottery Winner Made a 'Huge Mistake'
In November, the Watson Institute of worldwide and Public Affairs at Brown University said in a study that the United States had spent $5.6 trillion on military conflicts in the Middle Eastern region since the 9/11 terror attacks with $877.4 billion of them spent on the operations in Afghanistan, including the Coalition Support Funds for Pakistan.
Empowered with more independence and authority under the Trump administration, the USA military began its expanded air offensive campaign in the fall.
Analysts said the B-52 airstrikes targeted areas which are hard for ground forces to access and areas outside of government's control. Other strike aircraft are based in Afghanistan, including F-16 jets flown from Bagram air base and A-10 attack jets that recently arrived at Kandahar Airfield in the southern part of the country. "US strikes and ASSF [Afghan Special Security Forces] raids have resulted in the removal of more than $30 million of Taliban revenue since the campaign began in November 2017", added the press release.
The US Air Force says its strikes are disrupting Taliban support networks in Helmand province, as well as destroying the terrorist group's sources of revenue, including narcotics.
The US is preparing an onslaught against insurgents in Afghanistan when the Taliban's fighting season starts in the spring. "There will be no safe haven for any terrorist group bent on bringing harm and destruction to this country".
The Pentagon's refocus officially began on February 1.
"The Taliban can not win on the battlefield, therefore they inflict harm and suffering on innocent civilians", said Gen Nicholson.