Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Taliban launches assault on Afghanistan's Farah city

Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off Reuters
Cristina Norman | 16 May, 2018, 15:05

More than 300 Taliban fighters have been killed in the battle for Farah, provincial Governor Abdul Basir Salangi said on May 16.

The attack began at about 2 a.m. in Farah city, near the Iranian border.

"(The Taliban) will fail", vowed interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish, who said both Afghan and foreign air forces were taking part in the fighting.

"NDS forces in their headquarters are engaged in heavy clashes with the Taliban".

The Taliban continues its insurgency in Afghanistan with an assault on Farah City.

The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year. At least eight insurgents had been killed and three wounded, it said.

However, they have been pushed back, officials said on Wednesday morning. Despite the pressure of greatly stepped-up US and Afghan airstrikes, the Taliban have shown little interest in the Afghan government's offer of a comprehensive peace agreement.

The NATO-led Resolute Support military forces issued a statement saying Farah city remained under government control and that air support, including U.S. Air Force A-10s, were assisting Afghan security forces.

In recent months, Farah province has been the site of many battles between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents.

There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it, a project with which the Taliban have pledged to cooperate.

Another resident said: "The government forces have conducted a number of operations in different parts of the city in the past few days, but this hasn't had any results".

The targeting of Farah, coinciding with gains by the Taliban since the launch of a spring offensive less than three weeks ago, forced Afganistan's President, Ashraf Ghani, to call an urgent security meeting with senior defense officials on Tuesday.

He accused the government and military leadership of "turning a blind eye" until the insurgents actually entered the city.

"The Afghan security forces are bringing their full capabilities, consisting of Army, Police, Commandos and Air Force, to bear on the situation", it said, adding that USA forces "stand firm beside our Afghan partners and will continue to reinforce this Afghan-led offensive".

The insurgents have tried several times to take provincial capitals in recent years, including Kunduz and Lashkar Gah, with the Afghan army deploying significant numbers of troops to hold those cities and push the militants out. "The global coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure that will force them to come to the table", Votel said during a visit to Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe.

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