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KABUL (Reuters) -- Afghan and U.S.-led forces have killed 30 militants in southwest Afghanistan, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its highest since the Taliban was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001, with attacks spreading from the south and east to the outskirts of Kabul, forcing Washington to consider new policy options including a counterinsurgency push.

The operation, which U.S. forces said was led by Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers advised by U.S.-led coalition troops, took place in Gereshk district, some 530 kilometers southwest of Kabul, on March 19.

"After positively identifying the enemy fighting position and assuring there were no noncombatants in the area, the combined element returned fire...killing 30 militants," the U.S. forces statement said.

Small arms fire and close air support were used to kill the militants, the statement said, adding that one ANA soldier was injured but no civilians were harmed.

The United States will send up to 17,000 additional troops this year to reinforce largely NATO-led military efforts in south Afghanistan, including Helmand Province, which alone supplies around half the world's opium.