m3n4.net
m3n4.net September 23, 2018


The Taliban attacked the town of Farah

15 May 2018, 10:16 | Tara Lloyd

Reuters

Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off

Taliban militants have launched an offensive on the western Afghan city of Farah on Tuesday, with fierce fighting breaking out between insurgents and government forces.

In the meantime, the residents of the city said that "if the government does not send more troops to the province, Farah city will fall into the hands of the Taliban".

The Taliban have frequently claimed they try to avoid civilian casualties, but human rights organizations have counted thousands of civilian deaths caused by insurgent violence in recent years - many the result of Taliban attacks in populated urban areas.

The Taliban launched a coordinated assault on Farah shortly after midnight, and quickly overran checkpoints at the city's edge.

Farah has only about 50,000 residents, and the surrounding province, also called Farah, is a remote and poor rural region known mostly for growing opium poppies.

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Violence has spiked in Afghanistan since the Taliban announced the start of their annual spring offensive last month.

A spokesman for the Chief Executive office Javid Faisal said the commandos have been deployed in police headquarters, intelligence compound, and the central prison of Farah.

Noorul Haq, spokesman for the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Farah, said up to 1,000 security personnel are engaged in gunfight with the militants. "Gunfight, airstrikes and explosions are taking place around the city", he said.

Inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.

Another provincial council member, Dadullah Qani, confirmed Hissaini's comments.

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

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

Farah Province has been a key battleground for the Taliban for months. 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.

Footage released on social media shows that a number of security forces' vehicles have been torched and that the Taliban have entered a building used by the security forces.

But it has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years.

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In 2017, insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.



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