Afghanistan: 15 feared dead after 2 army helicopters collide in Helmand province

Clay Curtis
October 14, 2020

Nine people were killed Wednesday when two Afghan army helicopters carrying wounded soldiers collided in the southern Helmand province.

The governor's spokesman Omar Zwak told Anadolu Agency that security forces had withdrawn "tactically" from their checkpoints in the BabaJi area on the outskirts of the provincial capital Lashkargah.

The group has carried out 575 attacks against Afghan security forces and civilians throughout the entire country in the last two weeks, said Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

Thousands of Afghan civilians have fled Nawa and Nad Ali districts because of the fighting, said Atiqullah, a local community leader from Nawa district, who like many Afghans goes by just one name.

Col Leggett said that U.S. forces will continue to provide support in defence of Afghan national security forces when attacked by the Taliban. The Afghan air force has also been flying sorties against the Taliban, Khan said.

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"Nothing is left to us, we lost everything, including our home, property and livestock", he said. That the claim came only a few hours after the President's own national security advisor had said the number of troops would be brought down to 2,500 by early next year, which indicates that even the White House Administration was caught off guard.

The clashes have triggered an exodus of 30,000 people, said Sayed Mohammad Ramin, director of the Helmand province refugees department. He and his family fled to stay with relatives in the city of Lashkar Gah, Helmand's provincial capital.

"The fighting was so intense that I did not have time to take any extra clothes".

The Afghan Defense Ministry confirmed the crash and blamed it on "technical issues" while the aircraft were taking off.

The Taliban "need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand Province and reduce their violence around the country", Leggett said in a statement on Twitter, quoting Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of the US Forces in Afghanistan. Hundreds of Afghan troops and civilians have been killed or wounded, thousands have been forced to flee their homes, and critical services, including health care, electricity and telecommunications, have been cut off, it said. As things stand, the US-Taliban peace deal, although signed and agreed upon in principle, does not stand on very strong footing as negotiations are ongoing and civil war violence continues. Talks began last month between the Taliban and Afghan government in Doha but appear to be stalled as the two sides have struggled to establish a basic framework for negotiations.

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