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US drops record number of bombs in Afghanistan in 2019

On Monday, Taliban claimed it downed CIA plane in restive Ghazni province

Shadi Khan Saif   | 28.01.2020
US drops record number of bombs in Afghanistan in 2019 File Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan

The U.S. forces stationed in Afghanistan dropped a record number of bombs in 2019, according to a recent data by the U.S. air forces.

The U.S. military conducted 2,434 airstrikes in the war-hit country to drop 7,423 bombs, marking a steady rise over 7,362 weapons released in 2018, the U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a report on Monday.

The airstrikes were carried out when the U.S. and Taliban engaged in rejuvenated yet fragile peace talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, last year.

On Monday, Taliban insurgents claimed to have brought down a CIA plane allegedly on a “spy mission.”

Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman, said in a statement, “All staff and passengers, including key officers of the CIA, have been killed,” posting on Twitter a video and pictures of a plane with apparent U.S. markings.

The U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) later confirmed the incident and owned the plane.

Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for USFOR-A, said in a statement that it was a U.S. Bombardier E-11A that crashed on Monday in Ghazni province.

“While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire. We will provide additional information as it becomes available,” he tweeted.

Leggett gave no information about casualties from the crash.

The confirmation followed earlier claims by Khaliq Dad Akbari, a member of the Ghazni Council, that a passenger plane had gone down close to the Taliban-controlled Deh Yak district at around 1:30 p.m. (0900GMT), but the country’s Civil Aviation Authority denied the reports.

If the Taliban’s claims are true, this would be at least the third plane or helicopter allegedly shot down by the insurgents in Afghanistan this month.

Last month, Afghanistan’s former spymaster, Rehmatullah Nabil, warned of dire consequences in Afghanistan if a peace deal is not reached before spring 2020.

In a series of tweets, he said if the US-Taliban peace deal is not finalized by this spring/summer, it will not be a surprise that the Taliban may be provided man-portable air-defense systems, which could be a game changer for them in the Afghan conflict.

In the late 1980s, it was the U.S. Stringer missiles supplied to the Afghan Mujahedeen that turned the tables on the then pro-Soviet regime in Kabul after repeated calls for a cease-fire were shrugged off by the anti-government forces.

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