LASHKARHAH, Afghanistan, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Up to 44 alleged drug smugglers were killed after allegedly the U.S. aircrafts conducted air strikes against alleged Taliban heroin labs in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan on Tuesday night, a local official said on Wednesday.
"U.S. fighters bombed the Taliban-run heroin labs in Bahramcha area of Dishu districts in Helmand province on Tuesday night, as a result 44 drug smugglers were killed and their heroin labs completely destroyed," the official told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity, saying he has no authority to talk to media.
According to the official, this is the second time over the past three days that the U.S. forces planes targeted heroin labs in Bahramcha area in the poppy growing Helmand province.
Provincial government officials in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah have yet to make comment on the subject.
The U.S. forces in Afghanistan did not make comment on the report.
Meantime, the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan in a statement posted on its website on Monday said that "Afghan and U.S. forces launched a new campaign to destroy Taliban's funding network" in southern Helmand province.
"Over the past 24 hours, U.S. and Afghan forces conducted combined operations to strike seven Taliban drug labs and one command-and-control node in Kajaki, Musa Qalah and Sangin districts of Helmand province," the statement asserted.
"The strikes are just the beginning, and it represents the U.S. and global will to defeat terror and the criminals who support terrorists," the statement quoted Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led RS mission as saying.
Afghanistan is the major producer of poppy in the world as 9000 tones of opium produced in the country in 2017, according to United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) report released on Nov. 15.
Opium poppy is considered to be the main financial source of Taliban militants, who are fighting against Afghan government and the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
"It's an illegal economy worth up to 60 billion U.S. dollars in street value, it's estimated that more than 200 million U.S. dollars of this economy goes straight into the Taliban's bank accounts," the RS said in the statement.