(AP) QALAT, Afghanistan – Afghan soldiers were waging a fierce battle with entrenched Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan after a night of heavy U.S. bombing that left many Taliban dead, an Afghan intelligence chief said Friday.
The battle — one of the most intense in months — comes after four days of fighting in the area, according to Afghan officials. The U.S. bombardment also appeared to be one of the Americans’ larger-scale operations, though the U.S. military frequently joins its Afghan allies in attempting to root out Taliban fighters.
U.S. warplanes began bombing two suspected Taliban positions in the Chinaran and Larzab mountains of Dai Chupan district in southern Zabul province late Thursday, provincial intelligence chief Khalil Hotak told The Associated Press.
The bombing ended at about 4 a.m., and some 500 local Afghan soldiers moved in on the Taliban fighters. The Taliban had taken up fortified positions in a deep mountain gorge and along a stream that runs through the area, Hotak said in a command center set up in Qalat, about 45 miles south of the fighting.
It was impossible to know the exact number of Taliban killed in the bombing and subsequent fighting, but Hotak said the number of fighters killed could be as high as 35. The U.S. military could not immediately be reached for comment.