The U.S. military confirmed Saturday that overnight joint counter-Taliban operations in southern Afghanistan have killed and wounded Afghan security forces, but gave no casualty toll.
The confirmation followed local media reports that said airstrikes conducted late Friday in the insurgent-held Nad Ali district of embattled Helmand province killed at least eight local forces and wounded many more.
An investigation is underway to determine circumstances that led to the “unfortunate” incident,” said the American military’s public affairs office in Kabul.
“During an ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] and U.S. partnered operation, fires resulted in the deaths and injuries to members of the Afghan Border Police,” it noted.
The U.S. military would like to express its “deepest” condolences to the families of the victims, the statement said.
A spokesman for the Islamist insurgency claimed Afghan forces “dressed like Taliban” had taken up positions in the Loe Bagh area of the district to ambush Taliban insurgents when jet planes “bombed and killed tens of them.”
is Afghanistan’s largest province and most of it is under the control or influence of the Taliban.
The district where Friday night’s airstrikes took place is located on the edge of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.
A group of around 300 U.S. Marines arrived in the embattled province in April to support struggling Afghan forces in their battle against the Taliban.
The Taliban has extended its control and influence to swathes of Afghanistan and intensified battlefield attacks across the country since launching its so-called yearly spring offensive in late April, killing scores of Afghan security forces.
The war-torn nation, and particularly its capital city of Kabul, has also witnessed an uptick in deadly suicide bombings in recent weeks, causing unprecedented civilian casualties.