American air strike kills five Taliban fighters: US official

Above, a US serviceman aboard a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan. A US air strike in Wardak province on Sunday evening targeted Taliban fighters, killing five. (AFP file photo)
Updated 26 October 2020

American air strike kills five Taliban fighters: US official

  • Violence has escalated in recent weeks with clashes taking place between the insurgents and government troops across the country

KABUL: A US air strike launched to support Afghan security forces killed five Taliban fighters in central Afghanistan on Sunday evening, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan said.
Violence has escalated in recent weeks with clashes taking place between the insurgents and government troops across the country, while negotiators from both sides have held talks in Qatar for a peace deal that could allow Washington to withdraw its remaining forces and end the United States’ longest war. Col. Sonny Leggett, the US military spokesman in Kabul, said the air strike in Wardak province was conducted to defend Afghan government troops and targeted Taliban fighters, killing five.
He said the action was in accordance with terms of the United States withdrawal agreement struck with the Taliban in February.
“We reject the allegations of violating the agreement and of killing innocent Afghans,” Leggett said, without elaborating.
When asked for comment, a Taliban spokesman said that there had been no fighting when the strike took place, and it broke the terms of agreement.
“This attack is a violation of the agreement and we condemn it,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Earlier this month, the Taliban accused the United States of violating the agreement following air strikes in southern Helmand province, where government forces were desperately trying to repel hundreds of insurgents seeking to seize control of the provincial capital Laskhar Gah.
Diplomats and officials say the rising violence is undermining trust needed if the talks in Qatar are to succeed.
The United States’ special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said earlier this month that he had met with Taliban representatives to agree to a ‘re-set’ of the US-Taliban deal in order to reduce the violence.
The Taliban has so far rejected repeated calls for a cease-fire by foreign powers and the Afghan government.


Russia says India to produce 100 million doses of Sputnik vaccine

Updated 27 November 2020

Russia says India to produce 100 million doses of Sputnik vaccine

  • Hetero, one of India’s leading generic pharmaceutical companies, have agreed to produce in India over 100 million doses per year

MOSCOW: The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), one of the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, announced Friday that India-based drugmaker Hetero will produce over 100 million doses of the jab.
“Hetero, one of India’s leading generic pharmaceutical companies, have agreed to produce in India over 100 million doses per year of the world’s first registered vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection — Sputnik V,” the RDIF said in a statement, adding that production was expected to start in early 2021.