American Troops Help Fight Off Major Taliban Assault

American Troops Help Fight Off Major Taliban Assault

Afghan forces launched a clearing operation today, searching for Taliban fighters following a major assault on the southeastern city of Ghazni, after USA air strikes targeted insurgents trying to overrun the city.

For all the talk of peace negotiations, the Taliban have stepped up attacks on provincial centers and the capital Kabul this year, demonstrating their continued ability to hit the USA -supported forces. Most of the casualties were Taliban, he said. "Morale is sinking. There aren't enough soldiers and police in the city right now to resist", Mr. Faqiri said.

He revealed that 20 airstrikes were carried out on Taliban positions on Sunday, causing an unknown number of causalities among the insurgents, who have been receiving backup from around the country. Still, the Afghan forces were engaged in house-to house battles in some residential areas to root out the remnants of the Taliban's attack force.

The attack was the largest tactical operation launched by the Taliban since an unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the Taliban to a temporary pause.

Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Afghan army chief of staff, said the city was not under threat of collapse and heavy fighting was underway to push back the Taleban from city limits.

Rik Peeperkorn, acting United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator for Afghanistan, said residents "have seen their city turn into a battlefield since Friday morning, with fighting and clashes reportedly still ongoing". Quoting a hospital official, Afghanistan's 1TV television reported more than 90 members of the security forces and 13 civilians had been killed, with more than 100 wounded. The Taliban pushed deep into the strategic city about 120 kilometres (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul.

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"What wouldn't be helpful would be if the Uzbek efforts to facilitate lines of communication with the Taliban are not closely coordinated with the Afghan government", he said.

The Taliban on Friday staged a large-scale attack from multiple directions to try to capture Ghazni, which is located on the main highway linking northern and southern Afghan provinces, including the national capital of Kabul. Just this week, American Special Forces were deployed to the city to help train local forces and guard against renewed attacks.

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, said American forces and US attack helicopters flew in overnight.

The Taliban's four-day trip to Uzbekistan, which ended Friday, was the strongest sign yet of the group's growing regional clout, while the Ghazni assault has highlighted its military prowess.

The Taliban attack came as President Ashraf Ghani contemplated a cease-fire offer to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month.

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