Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Taliban capture northern base as Afghan forces fight in Ghazni

The insurgents had captured tanks and ammunition in Chenayeeha army base in Ghormach district of Faryab province in an offensive that began on Sunday Ghazni attack: 70 policemen killed in Afghanistan's provincial capital
Deanna Wagner | 16 August, 2018, 18:51

The Taliban overran a base in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers while Afghan forces battled the insurgents for the fifth straight day in the eastern provincial capital of Ghazni on Tuesday, trying to flush them out of the city's outskirts, officials said.

On Tuesday the army announced that a military base with 100 soldiers on it had fallen to the insurgents after days of fighting, with dozens feared killed and captured in the latest blow to morale.

"It is a tragedy that the base fell to the enemy", Rezaee said. "Some soldiers were killed, some captured and some fled to nearby hills", Mr Rezaee told AFP.

The militants launched a major attempt to take over Farah in May this year, triggering intense fighting with USA and Afghan forces, who forced the Taliban fighters to the outskirts of the city after a day-long battle.

Afghan troops backed by U.S forces gained control of most of the embattled city of Ghazni on Tuesday, officials said, while a Taliban attack in another province raised new questions about Afghanistan's defenses against the insurgency.

Afghan security forces have struggled against the Taliban since US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

The violence has shattered faint hope for moves towards a peace process generated by an unprecedented three-day truce during the Eid Al Fitr holiday in June, and a Taliban report late last month of a meeting between a senior United States diplomat and Taliban representatives in Doha.

Bahrami further added that senior security officials including the Afghan Army Chief of Staff Gen. Sharif Yaftali are in Ghazni city at the moment, leading the clearance operations against the Taliban.

Analysts say the attack is a show of strength with the insurgents under pressure to hold peace talks.

The fighting has brought civilian life to a standstill, with most residents sheltering indoors.

But the ferocious assault on Ghazni, which left much of the city without water or power, numerous buildings on fire and hospitals overwhelmed with emergency cases, was the most significant Taliban attack on a major urban center in almost three years.

The assault in Ghazni and the fall of the base also illustrate the challenges facing Afghan forces as they battle insurgents across the country, said analyst Abdul Hamid Sofof.

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Afghan authorities have insisted that the city would not fall to the Taliban and that Afghan forces remained in control of key government positions and other institutions there.

Communication networks remained largely down, making any information hard to verify.

The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission released a set of pictures taken during the peak of the clashes in Ghazni city, the provincial capital of Ghazni province.

The government has faced accusations of incompetence, neglect and complacency, as well as anger at its repeated assurances that the Taliban attack had failed, even while hundreds of fighters were roaming at will through the city.

In recent months, the Taliban have seized several districts across Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks on security forces, but they have been unable to capture and hold urban areas. With a total of 1,692 civilians killed in the first half of 2018, Al Jazeera suggests that this record number of civilian casualties is far from over.

'Those who can are fleeing'.

'I saw two trucks full of coffins going toward a cemetery in the city.

David Sedney, who has worked on Afghan issues as a civilian, including multiple years in Kabul and at the Pentagon, since the war began in October 2001, said he believes the chances for peace are the best they've been.

'The city is full of smoke.

Ghazni is barely two hours drive from Kabul, and straddles the Kabul-Kandahar highway, effectively acting as the main artery to the insurgents' strongholds in the south.

"Ghazni City remains under Afghan government control, and the isolated and disparate Taliban forces remaining in the city do not pose a threat to its collapse as some have claimed", "Resolute Support" and US Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson US Army Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell told Jane's on 13 August.