Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

Taliban Launches Offensive in Farah, Insurgents, Afghan Gov't Forces Battle it Out

Taliban Launches Offensive in Farah, Insurgents, Afghan Gov't Forces Battle it Out

Taliban fighters with heavy weapons and night-vision equipment fought their way close to the centre of the western city of Farah on Tuesday, as Afghan forces with US air support battled to force them back, officials and residents said.

As such, Tuesday's offensive "should not have taken government forces off guard", said military analyst and retired general Atiqullah Amarkhail.

He said residents had begun clearing the city, including removing the bodies of the Taliban attackers.

Chairman of the provincial Council Fared, Bakhtawar said that terrorists attacked several checkpoints, a result of the attack killed at least 30 security personnel, however, the number of victims will probably increase.

"We assure the people of Farah that all the operations implemented, air force, commandos and all other units stationed in the western part of the country are taking action", the Defense Ministry said.

The fighting in Farah was part of a recent increase in the tempo of attacks by the insurgents, since their announcement of a spring offensive late in April and their explicit rejection of Afghan government peace initiatives.

In the meantime, residents of Farah said that the Taliban have been pushed back from the city, but they are in Shir Koh, Pesht Koh districts and Regi area of the city and the Taliban still threaten the city.

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Farah province has seen heavy fighting in recent months, with local officials and tribal elders requesting additional forces from the already overstretched army and police.

Inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.

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

He said if the Taliban gain a foothold then fighters from neighbouring provinces would flood into the city.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed tweeted that Farah has been attacked from multiple directions early this morning, and so far all check points around the city, the NDS headquarters, a police station and multiple other check points inside the city have been overrun. However, Radmanish said only two soldiers were killed in the blast.

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai. Officials have warned of a deteriorating security situation as insurgents have entered the capital several times. 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.

Farah is home to about 50,000 people and would be the second city to fall to the Taliban since the city of Kunduz fell twice in 2015 and 2016.

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