The United States military said Tuesday that it has conducted airstrikes to help Afghan security forces hold off a major Taliban assault on a key district center in the embattled southern Helmand province.

Fierce fighting has been raging in and around the town of Sangin since early Monday when the insurgents staged a well-coordinated major offensive to try to overrun it.  

A U.S. military spokesman told VOA Tuesday approximately 10 airstrikes have been carried out in the last 24 hours in and around Sangin.

“These strikes targeted Taliban fighting positions. We will continue to aggressively support our Afghan partners as they defend Sangin from the Taliban,” the spokesman said in a written statement without giving further details.

Preparing for spring season

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah traveled to the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah on Tuesday to assess the security situation.

An official statement said that Abdullah directed security forces to push back the insurgents in Helmand before fighting intensifies in the spring season.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said Monday its fighters had captured at least 25 government outposts and killed more than 100 soldiers and police.

Attack staged from tunnels

Regional military commander, General Wali Mohammad, told VOA the insurgents used tunnels dug from civilian houses to launch the attack.

Most of Helmand is under Taliban control. The government fully controls only Lashkar Gah, and a few surrounding district centers.

The United States has announced it would deploy a new group of about 300 troops to Helmand later this year to help Afghan forces defend the city and beat back the Taliban during the spring fighting season.