World

WASHINGTON: In a bid to force militants to negotiate with the Afghan government, the United States has resumed its air strikes on Taliban positions in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama authorised US military commanders in Afghanistan to conduct offensive strikes against the Taliban and other terrorist groups once they identify targets of strategic value.

Defense experts in Washington warn that the new round of airstrikes could further extend US pressure on Pakistan to do more against the Afghan Taliban who, according to American claims, operate from inside Pakistan.

Related: Afghan govt. reaches deadlock in negotiations with militant Hizb-e-Islami

Pakistan, however, has rejected any such charges and urged the Obama administration to persuade Kabul into acting against TTP bases inside Afghanistan.

Last week, US Air Force Chief Gen Mark Welsh told reporters in Washington that in the past, air strikes were used essentially “as an emergency measure,” but this “new role is to help shape the battlespace a little bit more.”

Reports in the US media said that fresh air strikes began last week and would continue but Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook declined to provide any details, citing “operational security.”

Afghan Taliban, on the other hand, have vowed to retaliate strongly against latest air strikes.

“U.S. airstrikes have continued against our countrymen from the onset of the [foreign] invasion. There has been no cessation, so talk of restart is hollow,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

“The Afghan Mujahid nation is now used to airstrikes. Continuation of bombings cannot break the will of this nation nor subdue them,” Mujahid asserted.