At the beginning phase, these operations are mostly focused on some targets in Helmand province, mainly those processing centers located in Sangin, Musa Qala, Kajaki, and Nawzad districts.
Eight major drug processing centers were targeted and eliminated in a series of airstrikes conducted last night, November 19.
Opium cultivation and drug trafficking are said to be the most lucrative sources for the Taliban which fuels their strong resurgence against Afghan forces and its international allies.
However, Afghan government says that counter-narcotic campaign is one of its strategic objectives.
Most of the southern Helmand province is reportedly under the Taliban control and produces a huge amount of world’s opium.
The U.S. Commander of International Forces, Gen. John Nicholson on Monday at joint press conference with Afghan Chief of Army Staff said that narcotics remain largest source of revenue for the Taliban.
Nicholson said the Taliban earn more than $200 million annually from drug trafficking. “They fight so that they can keep profiting from narcotics trade and other criminal activities,” he said.
Opium production in Afghanistan reached record highs this year, up 87 percent on last year, according to the United Nations recent estimation. Helmand suffers heavy fighting and is the single-largest producer of opium.
“Last night we conducted strikes in northern Helmand to hit the Taliban where it hurts, in their narcotics financing,” he said.
The commander added that the attacks were part of U.S. new policy towards Afghanistan as the country boosts its troop numbers.
Afghan Chief of Army Staff, Mohammad Sharif Yaftali said that the government will continue to conduct operations against the Taliban and other militant groups in winter season.
“In the winter season, the focus will be on elimination of the Taliban’s leadership and their equipment and income sources,” he said.