The Taliban launched a serious assault on a provincial capital in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the primary for the reason that US army started its closing drawdown of troops from the nation, as insurgents press on with a blistering offensive.
Fierce combating erupted within the western metropolis of Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis, with the militants seizing police headquarters and workplaces of the nation’s spy company.
Afghanistan’s Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi mentioned authorities forces had been in a “very delicate army scenario”, including that “the warfare is raging” with the Taliban.
The onslaught got here simply hours after Washington introduced US forces on the bottom had accomplished greater than 90 % of their withdrawal from Afghanistan, and because the Kabul authorities held talks with Taliban representatives in neighbouring Iran.
The militants have waged a dizzying marketing campaign throughout Afghanistan since US and NATO forces introduced the ultimate withdrawal from the nation in early Might, seizing dozens of rural districts and stirring fears that the federal government is in disaster.
“The enemy has entered town, all of the districts have fallen,” Badghis governor Hessamuddin Shams advised reporters in a textual content message.
Badghis provincial council chief Abdul Aziz Bek confirmed the assault, saying some safety officers had surrendered to the Taliban.
“The provincial council officers have fled to a military camp within the metropolis. Preventing continues within the metropolis,” added Badghis provincial council member Zia Gul Habibi.
She mentioned the Taliban had entered town’s police headquarters and the native workplace of the nation’s spy company, the Nationwide Directorate of Safety.
In a separate video message despatched to reporters, Shams tried to calm the residents of town, whilst he appeared armed with a rifle with gunfire rattling within the distance.
“My message is please hold your calm. I guarantee you that we’ll, all of us, collectively defend town,” he mentioned.
As information of the assault unfold, social media was flooded with movies of the combat for town, with some movies displaying armed Taliban fighters on motorbikes coming into Qala-i-Naw as onlookers cheered.
The combat for town coincided with a high-level summit throughout the border in Iran, the place an Afghan delegation met with Taliban representatives in Tehran, in response to the Iranian international ministry.
Opening the Tehran talks, Iran’s Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed the US departure from its jap neighbour however warned: “Right now the folks and political leaders of Afghanistan should make troublesome selections for the way forward for their nation.”
Final week, all US and NATO forces left Bagram Air Base close to Kabul — the command centre for anti-Taliban operations — successfully wrapping up their exit after 20 years of army involvement that started within the wake of the September 11 assaults.
Important US air help for the Afghan forces has been massively curtailed by the handover.
For months the Taliban have been successfully surrounding a number of provincial capitals throughout the nation, with observers predicting that the militants had been ready for the entire withdrawal of international forces earlier than ordering an onslaught on city areas.
After they routed a lot of the north in current weeks, the autumn of Badghis would additional tighten the Taliban’s grip on western Afghanistan. Their forces have additionally inched nearer to the close by metropolis of Herat, close to the border with Iran.
If the Taliban seize Qala-i-Naw it is going to be of “strategic worth because it creates a psychological impact of Afghan forces quickly shedding territory like dominoes towards an unstoppable power”, mentioned Afghanistan skilled Nishank Motwani.
Afghan defence officers have mentioned they intend to deal with securing main cities, roads and border cities within the face of quite a few Taliban offensives.
Over time, the Taliban have launched periodic assaults on provincial capitals throughout the nation, briefly holding city areas earlier than being dislodged by US airstrikes and Afghan floor forces.