US, Afghan forces launch anti-poppy operation

US, Afghan forces launch anti-poppy operation
  • Clock-gray 00:50
  • calendar-gray 21 November 2017

The U.S. forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) have launched joint operations with the Afghan forces against the militants’ poppy processing facilities in the country, the Kabul government announced on Monday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

 

A statement by Arg (Presidential Palace) stated that eight narcotics processing facilities have been destroyed in such maiden operation in the southern Helmand province last night.

 

It added the fight against narcotics remains the Afghan government’s strategic objective.

 

“The Afghan government, considering the fact that it would be difficult to ensure peace and stability without fighting the criminal economy, has taken serious decisions and measures to target the sources of narcotics processing and trade”, it stated President Ashraf Ghani as saying.

 

Speaking at a news conference, Lt. Gen. Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Chief of General Staff for the Afghanistan security forces, said the recent raids in Helmand have destroyed poppy processing factories that were contributing 60 percent of the militants’ income.

 

He was flanked by Gen. John Nicholson, commanded U.S. Forces Afghanistan and the Nato-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM).

 

“Our combined operations over the last 24 hours are demonstration of our will to defeat terrorists and those who support them especially in the narcotics networks,” Gen. Nicholson said.

 

Last week, the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that opium production in Afghanistan has reached a record high in 2017, rising 87 percent compared to the previous year.

 

Helmand remained the country’s major opium poppy cultivating province, followed by Kandahar, Badghis, and Faryab provinces.

 

Gen. Nicholson said the global value of poppy cultivated in Afghanistan is in billions of dollars, and the Taliban earner up to $200 million from it on annual basis. He labeled the Taliban’s activities as ‘narco-insurgency’.

 

He also warned Afghanistan’s neighbors against meddling in Afghanistan for their own gains. “The neighbors, the other external actors who meddle in Afghanistan for their own gain must realize that they have picked the wrong side.”

Ceyhun Aliyev

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