KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. and Afghan government forces have killed more than 100 militants over the past few weeks in aggressive operations aimed at ensuring security for an election next month, the U.S. military said on Monday.
U.S. forces have in recent months been suffering their worst casualty rate in Afghanistan since arriving in late 2001 to force the Taliban from power.
"ANA and coalition forces continue to aggressively establish enduring security," U.S. spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore told a briefing in Kabul, referring to the U.S.-trained Afghan National Army.
About 65 militants have been killed in 25 clashes in Zabul province in the south over the past week, while about 40 were killed in fighting in Kunar province in the east over the last several weeks, she said.
The United States heads a 20,000 strong international force in Afghanistan fighting Taliban and al Qaeda militants and hunting for their leaders.
Another 10,000 NATO-led peacekeepers are also helping with security for the September 18 parliamentary election.
About 1,000 people, most of them Taliban fighters, have been killed in clashes, ambushes and bomb blasts this year, raising concern about the election, particularly in the most-troubled south and east.
U.S. forces have suffered 47 deaths in combat in Afghanistan this year, four in a blast in Zabul province on Sunday.
Despite the violence, Afghan government and U.S. officials say the election, the country”s next big step on a difficult path to stability, will not be disrupted.