The Taliban launched an offensive Friday, September 6 against a key city in western Afghanistan, officials said, the latest in a surge of attacks as the U.S. pushes for a deal that would allow it to begin withdrawing troops.
Dozens of Taliban fighters assaulted Farah city, the capital of Farah province, early in the day and seized an Afghan army recruitment center, Farooq Barakzai, the spokesperson for Farah’s provincial governor, told AFP.
Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousuf Ahmadi meanwhile said a “massive operation” was under way in the province.
Afghan forces, with U.S. support, were able to push the fighters back a few hours later, Farah police spokesperson Mohibullah Mohib said.
“Helicopters with the cooperation of [U.S.] troops have launched air strikes and bombarded the Taliban positions in Farah city,” he told AFP.
“The Taliban have been pushed back from the city but fighting is ongoing on the outskirts.”
He said 10 Taliban fighters had been killed, along with one paramilitary Afghan police officer.
The remote poppy-growing region that borders Iran has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years, and there have long been fears that its capital is vulnerable.
In May last year, the Taliban made a major attempt to capture Farah city but were eventually driven back by Afghan and US forces.
The Taliban have been stepping up operations in recent days even as they negotiate with Washington for a deal that would see the U.S. pull troops from Afghanistan in return for various security guarantees.
U.S. Army Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesperson for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said on Friday that American assistance to Afghan forces was ongoing.
“We continue to support our ANDSF partners as they thwart the Taliban’s attack on Farah,” he told AFP, using the abbreviation for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
On Saturday, the Taliban attempted to seize the provincial capital of Kunduz in the north and sporadic fighting continued on the outskirts all week.
And on Sunday, they launched an operation in the city of Pul-e Khumri, the capital of neighboring Baghlan province.
The capital Kabul too has been rocked by back-to-back bombings this week that have claimed dozens of lives.
With reporting from AFP