Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Afghan Troops, Taliban Both Claim Advantage in Major Fighting

Afghan Troops, Taliban Both Claim Advantage in Major Fighting

Gen. Sharif Yaftali, Chief of Staff for the Afghan National Army, appeared before journalists in Kabul in the afternoon and acknowledged that the control of some government compounds, including the provincial security commandment, have fallen into the hands of the Taliban.

Residents hid in their homes or attempted to flee the fighting, with basic provisions increasingly scarce and expensive, according to residents and officials.

The attack comes as pressure continues on the Taliban to enter peace talks with the Afghan government.

Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, a provincial council member, said only police and Afghan spy agency forces were battling the Taliban with no help from the army.

Afghan officials said they were in control of Ghazni late Friday with authorities in Kabul saying security forces were conducting a clearance operation targeting Taliban fighters who had taken up positions in residential homes.

The Taliban were ousted from power in 2011 following a USA invasion and ongoing occupation of the country.

"In Ghazni, only the police headquarters, governor's office and a few departments are under Afghan forces' control - the rest are under the Taliban fighters' control", he added. All shops were closed, they said, as was the highway from the capital of Kabul to Afghanistan's southern provinces that runs through Ghazni.

An unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the Taliban to a temporary halt, giving war-weary Afghans some welcome relief from violence.

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However, communication lines with the city have been disconnected for about three days and little information has been gleaned in the time.

Media reports said on Saturday that a delegation representing the Taliban had visited Uzbekistan from August 6 to 10 at the invitation of Uzbek officials. In recent years the insurgents have seized several districts across the country and staged near-daily attacks on Afghan security forces, but have been unable to capture and hold urban areas.

"U.S. Forces responded with close-air support this morning in #Ghazni", the official account for US Forces in Afghanistan tweeted Friday.

The talks focused on a range of issues, including the withdrawal of global forces from Afghanistan and Uzbek development projects in Afghanistan, a Taliban official said in a statement to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal.

"Afghan government welcomes any effort regarding the Afghan peace process, especially those attempts which can lead us to an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process", said Taheri.

Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be on the table.

While he said such a move is probably not imminent, "a few more headlines that show "his generals" are "failing" in Afghanistan could produce some personnel moves, and then a policy shift".

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