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Airstrikes said to kill 2 Taliban leaders

By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 19, 2016

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan airstrikes have killed two Taliban leaders and more than two dozen guerrillas in southern Helmand province, officials said Tuesday.

A strike in Sangin district late Monday hit the Taliban shadow district chief, Maulvi Noor Agha, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for Helmand’s governor.

Zwak said 15 other fighters were killed and many others wounded in the operation.

Meanwhile, separate airstrikes killed the Taliban’s district leader in Grishk, Mir Hamza, along with 12 other fighters on Monday night, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The Taliban have denied that either leader died in the raids.

In the past three months, the Afghan air force has been using its newly delivered A-29 Super Tucano to significantly increase the pace of its counterinsurgency operations.

Hundreds of additional U.S. troops were sent to Helmand in February to help local forces battle the Taliban after the militants seized new ground at the heart of the poppy-growing district.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

wellman.phillip@stripes.com

Twitter: @PhillipWellman

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