Taliban militants besiege Farah provincial capital in Afghsanistan

Randal Sanchez
May 16, 2018

The Taliban* movement launched a large-scale attack on the Farah province's capital city on Tuesday morning, and the militants were pushed back by national security forces early on Wednesday, according to the TOLOnews broadcaster.

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

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".

Salangi said residents had begun clearing the city, including removing the bodies of nearly 40 Taliban fighters.

The U.S. -led military coalition in Afghanistan said in a tweet that it was providing air support to Afghan forces around Farah.

Afghan forces have struggled to fight the Taliban in recent years as the insurgents have seized several districts across the country.

Residents said Taliban forces began their attack at around 2.00 a.m. (2130 GMT Monday) from several directions.

Farah also has a border with Helmand province, where the Taliban controls several districts.

The Taliban was asking the city's residents to stay in their homes and promising they wouldn't be harmed.

"Heavy fighting is going on and Taliban are in the city but the police headquarters and NDS (the Afghan intelligence agency) have not fallen to them", he said. He said Afghan forces established additional checkpoints to provide security.

Ashraf Ghani Afghanistan's president speaking at an event in Herat in February
Ashraf Ghani Afghanistan's president speaking at an event in Herat in February

NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul said the government remained in control of the city.

Reinforcements including commando units as well as the Afghan air force were battling Taliban fighters around the city, he said.

"First 1,000 Taliban insurgents attacked Farah districts on Tuesday and after the first attack over 1,000 other insurgents also joined the attack". At least eight insurgents had been killed and three wounded, it said.

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

The Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture from the government.

Farah is a vast and sparsely populated province with tens of thousands of dollars generated under custom duty.

Farah, which borders Iran, has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years.

In 2017, insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

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

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 United States estimates.

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