KABUL (Reuters) — The United States conducted an airstrike on Wednesday against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a U.S. forces spokesman said.
It was the first U.S. strike since a troop withdrawal agreement was signed between the two sides on Saturday.
The Taliban fighters were “were actively attacking an [Afghan National Security Forces] checkpoint. This was a defensive strike to disrupt the attack,” said Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan in a tweet.
Leggett added that Taliban forces had conducted 43 attacks on Afghan troops on Tuesday in Helmand. He said U.S. forces are responsible for defending their Afghan allies, citing agreements between the U.S. and Afghan governments.
He said Washington was committed to peace but called on the Taliban to stop “needless attacks” and uphold their commitments, alluding to the deal signed on Saturday in Doha.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in northern Kunduz province had killed seven of its soldiers. Ten Taliban fighters were killed in the shoot-out, according to the statement.
The Taliban have not claimed responsibility for any of the attacks so far or commented on the U.S. airstrike Wednesday.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press Wednesday that a week of reduction in violence that started midnight on Feb. 21 had ended.