Pentagon confirms airstrikes in Afghanistan under new guidelines

WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) — The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. warplanes launched “a limited number” of airstrikes against Taliban forces in Afghanistan after President Barack Obama‘s decision to expand American involvement in the war.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the airstrikes struck Taliban targets in southern Afghanistan in support of an ongoing operation by Afghan forces. He added that no U.S. combat troops were in the area but declined to provide more information about the airstrikes citing “operational security.”

President Obama approved the removal of certain key restrictions that barred U.S. support forces from actively fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan, granting Gen. John Nicholson the ability to perform airstrikes among other tactics.

U.S. military spokesman in Kabul Brigadier-General Charles Cleveland told Al Jazeera that U.S. forces “have conducted a limited number of strikes under these new authorities.”

He added that it is “too early to quantify the effects achieved” and assured that the airstrikes “are only being used where they may help the Afghans achieve a strategic effect.”

New airstrikes must also be approved by Nicholson, who must determine whether they will be a decisive factor in determining whether Afghan forces win battles or take and hold ground.

“The strategic effect is the appropriate test for the use of these authorities,” Cook said.

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