US forces in Afghanistan have carried out the largest operation against the Taliban in at least a year, killing dozens of commanders and members of the group’s elite “Red Unit” special forces.
The Red Unit is a first of its kind group of highly trained and well-armed insurgents that emerged in late 2016 across the southern provinces in Afghanistan.
“US Forces-Afghanistan conducted a series of precision strikes over a 10-day period, … killing more than 70 senior Taliban leaders,” a statement from Resolute Support said.
“These strikes represent one of the largest blows to Taliban leadership in the last year. The cumulative effects of which will be felt nationwide for quite some time,” said US Army Geneneral John Nicholson, who leads American forces in the country.
“The Red Unit is the Taliban’s version of a special operations soldier,” Lt Col Martin O’Donnell, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, told The National. “They are typically better trained and equipped than their conventional Taliban counterparts.”
Past reports have indicated that the Red Unit fighters are armed with high-end equipment, such as night-vision goggles, that have increased their capacities to target security checkpoint and Afghan security forces. Some are better armed and equipped than their opponents in the US-backed Afghan security forces.
Reportedly among the key figures killed in the operations between May 17 and 26 were several Taliban shadow governors, highly skilled bomb makers as well as ‘Red Unit’ fighters in Helmand.
“On May 26, an MQ-1C Gray Eagle [drone] killed a senior improvised explosive device facilitator, who has been coordinating improvised explosive device operations for the last 13 years,” the Resolute Support statement reported.
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