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Air Force F-16s, MQ-1 Predators Likely to Step up Airstrikes in Afghanistan

...While U.S. and NATO forces were free to launch attacks on al-Qaida, Islamic State and several other terrorist groups, they could only attack Taliban forces if they were directly attacking coalition forces, especially Afghan army troops, or could be directly tied to previous attacks on friendly forces. These stringent rules of engagement were meant to avoid "unintentional casualties and unwanted damage," said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Such attacks could "frankly, hurt your overall objective," he added, meaning to maintain open channels of communication with the Afghan government and push for diplomatic resolutions. "This is not a major air campaign," Gunzinger, a former advisor to the Air Force, told Air Force Times in late May. "It is an air support operation."..

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