Taliban militants besiege Farah provincial capital in Afghsanistan

16 May, 2018, 15:06 | Author: Teresa Adams
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Heavy fighting was ongoing in western Farah province near the Iranian border Tuesday morning after Taliban fighters launched a predawn assault on Farah city, killing and wounding several Afghan troops.

Fared Bakhtawer, head of the provincial council, offered a different picture, however, saying that several security checkpoints in Farah were overrun by the Taliban.

Farah province has seen heavy fighting in recent months, with local officials and tribal elders requesting additional forces to support the overburdened army and police.

In the last week Afghan security forces suffered heavy losses in clashes against insurgents across the country, but on Sunday the Afghan interior ministry said that security forces have retreated from some areas that have high threat levels so as to avoid additional fatalities.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement that "serious measures" had been taken to defend Farah after the militants launched their offensive from the city's north side.

"Heavy fighting continues inside the city and aircraft have just started bombarding Taliban positions", she told Agence France-Presse earlier on Tuesday from inside Farah.

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Located along one of the country's most lucrative drug routes, between Helmand province in the south and Iran to the west, the province has been embattled for months.

"The people are running from the city and the situation is very bad", said a resident of Farah.

"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 US forces "stand firm beside our Afghan partners and will continue to reinforce this Afghan-led offensive".

NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul tweeted that the Afghan army, supported by USA airpower including A-10 Thunderbolts, was "on the offensive" and the city "remains under govt. control".

The Presidential Palace meanwhile said they have held many meetings regarding the security situation and even President Ashraf Ghani has set election security as one of his priorities.

Salangi said more than 300 Taliban fighters were killed in the gunbattle.

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The Taliban, equipped with HUMVEEs and Afghan police pickup trucks, attacked multiple Farah City checkpoints and took over an intelligence headquarters, according to Long War Journal.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was contradicting official government reports.

The insurgents released a statement warning residents to stay inside their homes and "stay calm".

Farah is a poppy-growing province in a hard to reach part of Afghanistan.

But it has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years.

Although the insurgents have been unable to take and hold any provincial center, they are active across Afghanistan and the government has firm control over no more than 56 percent of the country, according to U.S. estimates.

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Kunduz, Afghanistan's fifth largest city and capital of the northern province of the same name, fell briefly to the Taliban in 2015.

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