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U.S. Renews Strategic Air Strikes Against Afghan Taliban

U.S. airmen prepare a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone as it leaves on a mission at Kandahar Air Field in March.

The U.S. military has carried out its first air strikes against Taliban targets in Afghanistan since President Barack Obama authorized limited offensive operations against the insurgency earlier this month.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on June 24 that the strikes were in southern Afghanistan and no U.S. forces were in the area at the time. The new powers would allow U.S. troops to accompany conventional Afghan forces.

Obama's decision broadened the U.S. support role in Afghanistan's long-running conflict, more than a year after international forces wrapped up their combat mission and shifted the burden to Afghan troops.

The goal is to put greater pressure on the Taliban, who control or contest more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since they were ousted in 2001.

Obama is also under pressure from former commanders and envoys to Afghanistan to forgo plans for a scheduled reduction in the numbers of U.S. troops to 5,500 from about 9,800 currently before he leaves office in January.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP