KABUL – Hundreds of Taliban fighters launched on Friday a massive assault and captured some villages and remote parts of Afghanistan’s western Farah province in an ongoing intense battle, officials said.
Farah police spokesperson Muhibullah Muhib told EFE that the defense and security belt of the provincial capital with the same name came under a coordinated Taliban attack from the north and northwest of the city in early hours of Friday.
The militants captured several areas on the city outskirts, he said.
The attack is a third on an Afghan provincial capital in less than a week that comes after United States envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said that they have finalized “in principle” a peace agreement with insurgents to end the 18-year old war.
Muhib said security forces were resisting the Taliban offensive to retake the areas they captured.
“With the help of reinforcement and airstrikes, we are now pushing the militants back from the areas they penetrated in the morning,” said Muhib.
The Taliban briefly took control of the army’s provincial recruitment center before Afghan security forces retook it, Muhib said, that the militant group suffered “heavy losses” in several strikes.
“More than 50 Taliban fighters, including two commanders, were killed and several others wounded in the counter-attack,” he said.
At least one policeman was also killed and several others injured in the ongoing battle, according to the spokesperson.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi said reinforcement of special forces was sent into the city.
Rahimi said Taliban commander Noor Ahmad Chakani, the militant group’s so-called deputy intelligence chief in Farah, was shot down.
Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid claimed in a short statement that their fighters have launched “large-scale attacks” to capture the capital city of Farah.
“Defense and security belt of the city is broken, several soldiers and police (personnel) are killed and injured. Mujahidin (fighters) are advancing toward the city’s center,” he said.
Farah has been one of the most insecure provinces in western Afghanistan that borders Iran. Its capital city was attacked several times by Taliban fighters in the past two years.
Militants took control of parts of the city in May 2018 before they were pushed back by the Afghan forces with the help of US airstrikes.
Farah is the third provincial capital city attacked by Taliban in the past seven days amid talks with the United States that culminated into a draft peace deal for withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
Taliban militants on Saturday attacked and captured some neighborhoods of northern Kudnuz city before Afghan special forces chased them away on the same day in a fighting that left 80 people dead, most of them insurgents.
A day after Kunduz, the group attacked Pul-e-Khumri, the capital city of northern Baghlan province but failed to enter the city after fighting the security forces on the city outskirts for several days.