Taliban battle into west Afghan city in new crisis for government

Taliban battle into west Afghan city in new crisis for government

Taliban battle into west Afghan city in new crisis for government

Taliban militants threatened the provincial capital of Farah in western Afghanistan on Tuesday, with fighting underway on the outskirts of the city where government forces were defending two police districts, officials and residents said.

But the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, said on May 11 that the Taliban "cannot win militarily".

MoD spokesman Gen. Mohamamd Radmanish had earlier said the clashes continue in the West and North of the city, nearly 3 kilometers away from the center of the city.

Bakhtawer said casualties were high among security forces, but couldn't provide a precise number.

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But inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.

Farah, a remote and sparsely populated province on the border with Iran, has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds of police and soldiers killed and severe losses inflicted even on elite special forces units.

"I can say that it is street-to-street battle", a city official, Mohammed Sarwar Usmani, told Arab News.

At the same time, Taliban fighters have stepped up the pressure on government forces across the country, from Baghlan province in the north, where they seized a district center last week, to Farah in the southwest or Ghazni, south of Kabul.

Meanwhile, Abdul Basir Salangi, provincial governor, confirmed heavy fighting in the city.

"The Taliban captured several security checkpoints inside and around the city". They have been posting images on social media which they claim shows them inside the city.

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

Several security forces and militants were killed and injured during the clashes, according to the reports.

Farah is a poppy-growing province in a hard to reach part of Afghanistan. There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it, a project with which the Taliban have pledged to cooperate. The insurgents have not overrun any other city, a fact that US military officials often point to as a sign of fatal weakness.

The NATO-led Resolute Support military forces issued a statement saying Farah city remained under government control and that air support, including U.S. Air Force A-10s, were assisting Afghan security forces.

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