U.S. Marines will return to Afghanistan's opium region
The United States announced it will send around 300 Marines back to Afghanistan. They will go to the opium-rich Helmand province to train local forces to fight the Taliban. The Marines should begin deploying this year and will remain in the province for nine months. Helmand is the main source of Afghanistan's thriving opium trade, which is worth an estimated $4 billion a year. The Taliban controls 85 percent of the province, which means much of the opium profit funds its efforts. The U.S. and NATO formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. However, thousands of troops remain in the country, where they assist and train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations.