U.S. and Afghanistan launch air strikes as Taliban attack western city

Posted May 16, 2018

Taliban fighters overran parts of western Farah city early Tuesday but were reportedly repelled by late evening as Afghan ground troops and reinforcements, backed by US and Afghan airstrikes, fought for hours to prevent the insurgents from capturing a second city since the conflict began in 2002.

Fared Bakhtawer, head of the Farah provincial council, said the insurgents overran several security checkpoints in the provincial capital of the same name and that heavy fighting was underway.

"Heavy fighting continues inside the city and aircraft have just started bombarding Taliban positions", local provincial council member Jamila Amini told AFP.

At least two Afghan security forces members had been killed in Tuesday's fighting, said Ahmad Zaki, a doctor at the city's central hospital. Afghan security forces have struggled to combat the two groups since the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation concluded their combat mission in 2014, switching to a counterterrorism and support role.

Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said at least six security forces were killed and 12 others, including the deputy provincial police chief, were wounded in the attack.

The Taliban claimed the assault on Farah in statement to media, saying they had attacked from multiple directions.

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

According to Salangi the Taliban failed to capture the NDS directorate, Farah prison, police headquarters or "other key organizations and "soon they will be thwarted from the city".

The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that Afghan security forces were able to repel their attacks.

The Taliban urged residents to stay indoors and vowed not to harm anyone.

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

Clashes have been ongoing for the past few months in different parts of Farah province.

It's also an important economic area with the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline planned for the region.

Poor coordination among security forces and the Taliban's access to more sophisticated weapons have been cited as major factors in the militants' advance. Kunduz was subsequently retaken by the government both times.