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US Air Strikes Target Taliban In Afghanistan

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(RFE/RL) — The U.S. military says it has launched its first air strikes against the Taliban since a cease-fire declared by the militants and Afghan forces last month.

The two sets of air strikes took place on June 4-5 in two different Afghan provinces, military spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett said.

Elsewhere, 10 Afghan security forces members were reported killed on June 5 in an attack blamed on the Taliban.

The militant group announced a three-day cease-fire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26 to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

There has since been an overall drop in violence across the country, with Kabul saying it is ready to start long-delayed peace negotiations with the insurgents.

Washington signed a deal with the Taliban in February, in which it pledged to withdraw all U.S. troops in return for security guarantees in a bid to pave the way for talks between warring Afghan sides.

Leggett said in a tweet that a U.S. air strike was carried out against 25 armed Taliban fighters “executing a coordinated attack” on an Afghan force checkpoint in the western province of Farah.

Another strike was conducted on an unknown number of Taliban fighters attacking a checkpoint in the southern Kandahar Province, the spokesman said.

“All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold,” he wrote in a separate tweet.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

In the southern province of Zabul, officials said the Taliban ambushed a police convoy after setting off a roadside bomb, killing 10 Afghan officers.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the blast destroyed several police vehicles.

A subsequent shoot-out also killed four Taliban fighters, Arian added.

The Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

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