Afghan forces push Taliban out of southern area in Helmand province

Afghan security forces have recaptured a southern district in the restive province of Helmand from the Taliban, as part of Kabul’s campaign to push the militant group from one of the key heartlands of insurgency and narcotics production.

In a two-day operation launched on Saturday, the security forces took the district center of Nawa to the south of the provincial capital city of Lashkar Gah, killing more than 50 militants and destroying their vehicles and equipment, Defense Ministry spokesman, General Dawlat Waziri, was cited as saying by Reuters on Monday.

The casualties announced by the Defense Ministry could not be immediately verified.

The security forces plan to continue the operation southward along the main road to the town of Garmsir, officials said.

The Taliban control large stretches of Helmand Province, which is considered the source of much of the world’s illegal opium.

Afghanistan has been gripped by violence and insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.

During the past 16 years, the Taliban militants have been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians.

In addition, the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has recently managed to take recruits from Afghan Taliban defectors.

According to the mid-year report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan published on Monday, 1,662 people were killed and more than 3,500 injured in the war-torn country in the first half of 2017, showing a sharp rise in the civilian casualties.

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