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US and Afghan aircraft deployed after Taliban launch offensive on Farah city

U.S. and Afghan Air Force aircraft have targeted Taliban positions in Farah after the Taliban launched an assault in a bid to capture the city.

NATO’s Resolute Support mission said that U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft were over the provincial capital, which was still under government control.

“The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), supported by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) airpower, are on the offensive against the Taliban,” Resolute Support tweeted.

“Both Afghan A-29s and Mi-17s have conducted multiple strikes. U.S. forces have conducted one drone strike (MQ-9) and a show-of-force with A-10s. Dozens of Taliban killed,” Resolute Support spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Martin O’Donnell later told AFP.

According to Afghan journalists’ reports on social media, the group has overrun some areas of Farah city. RFE/RL reporter Frud Bezham tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that militants had taken over the city’s main square. AFP reported that other media stations in the province have stopped broadcasting out of fear for their security.

Afghan air force, army, police and commandos were deployed, according to Resolute Support.

Special forces from Kandahar and Herat were rushed to the city to take part in the fighting. Sporadic clashes were still ongoing late Tuesday, provincial council member Dadullah Qani told AFP.

Defense ministry spokesperson Mohammad Radmanish said four soldiers and “dozens” of insurgents had been killed.

Pockets of resistance remained, but “our forces are battling the enemy with high morale,” Radmanish added.

It is the Taliban’s first major attempt to capture a city since it launched its spring offensive last month. In a statement on April 25, the Taliban announced the campaign, named Al Khandaq for the Battle of the Trench fought by the Prophet Mohammad.

The statement called President Ashraf Ghani’s peace offer a conspiracy, and said the government planned “to deviate public opinion from the illegitimate foreign occupation of the country, as the Americans have no serious or sincere intentions of bringing the way to an end.”

The Afghan defense ministry has dismissed as propaganda the group’s claim that it will be focusing on killing Afghan and American forces.

Last week the Taliban claimed responsibility for a seven-hour attack in Kabul’s PD10 area, which killed a number of civilians and security personnel.

Taliban strives to repeat Afghanistan’s deadly history with new spring offensive

With reporting from AFP.

This post was updated with additional information on May 16.

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