Afghan special forces sent to bolster threatened city defenses

Pauline Gross
August 16, 2018

The Ministry of Interior said on Monday that 70 police officers were among the dead, Tolo News reported.

Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a spokesman for the United States military in Ghazni, said that the city remains under Afghan government control and the insurgents do not "pose a threat to its collapse as some have claimed".

The Afghan government on Monday sent reinforcements to the embattled city of Ghazni in an attempt to rout Taliban fighters who are trying to take over the city for a fourth day.

"U.S. advisers are assisting the Afghan forces, and USA airpower has delivered decisive blows to the Taliban, killing more than 140 since [Friday]", O'Donnell said. The top USA military commander in Afghanistan has denied that the United States is ready to negotiate directly with the Taliban, but the US government could participate in talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

In regards to the casualties of the militants, Bahrami said at least 194 militants have been killed so far, including 12 of their senior commanders.

Ghazni lies on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, an important artery connecting the capital to the country's southern provinces and some of its western ones.

Almost 100 soldiers and police officers have been killed, with many wounded according to reports from security officials, who also added that casualties on the Taliban side are similarly heavy.

Ghazni's hospitals were running out of medicines and people unable to safely bring casualties, Mr. Peeperkorn's statement said, adding that electricity, water supply and food were running low.

"Many of their bodies have been spread here; Chechens and Pakistani people (fighters) are amongst them", said Ghazni Police Chief Fared Marshal. Fayeza Fayez, a journalist who fled Ghazni over the weekend, said many people were still hiding in their basements as fighting continued "from street to street".

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When asked about the disappearance of 100 Special Police Unit forces, Bahrami said they were 50 in number and retreated to a safe place due to the intensity of the clash.

O'Donnell, the U.S. military's spokesman, said again on that: "Tactically, operationally and strategically, the Taliban achieved nothing with this failed attack except another eye-catching, but inconsequential headline".

The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, but have repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces as they have struggled to combat a resurgent Taliban. "We have received initial reports of a number of civilian casualties and of people trying to reach safe areas outside of the city", said Rik Peeperkorn, acting United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan.

The Taliban say they met with Alice Wells, the top USA diplomat for South Asia, in Qatar last month for preliminary talks.

A year after the Trump administration introduced its strategy for Afghanistan, the Taliban are asserting themselves on the battlefield even as USA officials talk up hopes for peace.

"They (Taliban) steal people's belongings".

There were quick assurances that the Taliban had been pushed back to the outskirts shortly after Friday.

Early in 2018 the USA military declared Afghanistan to be its top combat priority, supplanting the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Losing Ghazni to the Taliban would essentially cut Afghanistan in half, closing its second-busiest trade route. President Ashraf Ghani ordered more troops to be sent to the city.

Other reports by GizPress

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