KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO and Afghan forces have killed at least 25 insurgents and three of their commanders in separate operations around the country, Afghan and coalition officials said Wednesday.
The size and scope of the latest operations were an indication that the Afghan war is far from over after 11 years of conflict, even as U.S. and foreign forces begin rapidly withdrawing and handing the lead role for security to the Afghans.
Fighting is also expected to intensify as the traditional spring fighting season gets under way after the heavy snows that blanket much of northern and eastern Afghanistan starts melting.
The U.S.-led International Assistance Force has about 100,000 troops in the country, including about 66,000 from the United States. America is expected to pull out 34,000 of its troops within a year and its allies are also expected to scale back considerably. Afghan forces are to take the lead for security starting in the spring – months ahead of schedule.
An Afghan security operation on Tuesday in Mehterlam, the capital city of eastern Laghman province, killed 15 insurgents, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday. The ministry said the insurgent's commander, identified as Qari Almas, was also killed in the raid.
Also Tuesday, joint operations by Afghan and coalition troops killed 10 insurgents in southern and eastern Afghanistan, NATO said.
The coalition said five insurgents were killed in the lawless Andar district of eastern Ghazni province, three died in an operation in eastern Logar province, and two were killed in southern Helmand province.
Both the Andar and Helmand killings were carried out by what NATO called "precision strikes," usually a reference to an airstrike.
An Afghan official said a NATO airstrike killed a senior Taliban commander in southern Helmand province on Tuesday. Ismail Khoutak, the director of the Joint Operations Center in the region, identified the insurgent as Khan Mohammed, also known as Shamssullah. He said Mohammed commanded insurgents in the Mus-a-Qala district.
NATO confirmed in an announcement that the Taliban commander had been killed in the operation.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford
Nationality: American Served: Feb. 10, 2013 to present <em>Caption: Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his confirmation to be the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and to be commander of the U.S. Forces, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)</em>
Marine Gen. John R. Allen
Nationality: American Served: July 18, 2011 to Feb. 10, 2013 <em>Caption: This July 22, 2012, file photo shows U.S. Gen. John Allen, top commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, during an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)</em>
Army Gen. David Petraeus
Nationality: American Served: July 4, 2010 to July 18, 2011 <em>Caption: In this July 5, 2010, file photo, Gen. David Petraeus, then newly-installed top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, eats bread at a bakery in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ahmad Massoud, File)</em>
Lt. Gen. Nick Parker
Nationality: British Served: June 23, 2010 to July 4, 2010 Assumed interim command after Gen. Stanley McChrystal resigned <em>Caption: Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker, the Commander-in-Chief of UK Land Forces, arrives at the Houses of Parliament on Dec. 12, 2012 in London, England. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. Stanley McChrystal
Nationality: American Served: June 15, 2009 to June 23, 2010 <em>Caption: Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal smiles while speaking during his retirement ceremony at Fort McNair July 23, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. David D. McKiernan
Nationality: American Served: June 2, 2008 to June 15, 2009 <em>Caption: In this Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008 file photo, U.S. Gen. David McKiernan, then top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference with Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Mohammad Akram, not pictured, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)</em>
Gen. Dan K. McNeill
Nationality: American Served: Feb. 7, 2007 to June 2, 2008 <em>Caption: In this Monday, June 11, 2007 file photo, U.S. Army Gen. Dan McNeill, then top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, speaks during an interview in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)</em>
Gen. David Richards
Nationality: British Served: May 4, 2006 to Feb. 7, 2007 <em>Caption: U.S. General Martin Dempsey, right, and British General Sir David Richards listen to the opening comments during a meeting of NATO Military Chiefs of Staff at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)</em>
Gen. Mauro del Vecchio
Nationality: Italian Served: Aug. 5, 2005 to May 4, 2006 <em>Caption: Mauro Del Vecchio attends 'Italia - Milano, 150 Anni In Salute' - Charity Gala held at Villa Necchi on June 28, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. Ethem Erdagi
Nationality: Turkish Served: Feb. 6, 2005 to Aug. 5, 2005 <em>Caption: Incoming Turkish Commander Lieutenant General Ethem Erdagi (L) is watched by French Lieutenant General Jean-Louis Py (R) as he addresses an audience during a change of command ceremony at ISAF Headquarters in Kabul, Feb. 13, 2005. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Gen. Jean-Louis Py
Nationality: French Served: Aug. 7, 2004 to Feb. 6, 2005 <em>Caption: French Commander of the International Security Assistance Force(ISAF) General Jean-Louis Py (L) shakes hands with Afghan tribal elders in Fayzabad, Dec. 16, 2004. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Lt. Gen. Rick Hillier
Nationality: Canadian Served: Feb. 9, 2004 to Aug. 7, 2004 <em>Caption: Chief of the Defense Staff General Rick Hillier of the Canadian Armed Forces drops the puck along with members of the Canadian Military during a ceremonial face-off with Mike Fisher #12 of the Ottawa Senators and Mats Sundin #13 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre, Feb. 2, 2008 in Toronto, Ontario. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)</em>
Lt. Gen. Goetz Gliemeroth
Nationality: German Served: Aug. 11, 2003 to Feb. 9, 2004 First ISAF-mission under the command of NATO, led by NATO <em>Caption: International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander Lieutenant-General Goetz Gliemeroth gestures during a press conference in Kabul, Jan. 21, 2004. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)</em>
Lt. Gen. Norbert Van Heyst
Nationality: German Served: Feb. 10, 2003 to Aug. 11, 2003 <em>Caption: Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst of Germany, commander of th International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF speaks to the media in Kabul Wednesday, March 5, 2003. (AP Photo/Amir Shah)</em>
Maj. Gen. Hilmi Akin Zorlu
Nationality: Turkish Served: June 2002 to Feb. 10, 2003 <em>Caption: Commander ISAF Major General Hilmi Akin Zorlu make a short speech at the Old King's Palace, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 10, 2002. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)</em>
Maj. Gen. John McColl
Nationality: British Served: December 2001 to June 2002 <em>Caption: General Sir John McColl arrives at the Iraq Inquiry on Feb. 8, 2010 in London, England. General Sir John McColl was the Senior British Military Representative in Iraq in 2004. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)</em>