Surprise Taliban Attack Leads To Days Of Fighting, Hundreds Of Deaths

Smoke is seen rising into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital of Ghazni on Friday

Smoke is seen rising into the air after Taliban militants launched an attack on the Afghan provincial capital of Ghazni on Friday

The city's power remained cut, with food prices rising, they said.

USA troops are advising Afghan security forces on clearance operations, combined-arms integration, and other issues, O'Donnell added, Insisting that Ghazni "remains under government control" except for "isolated and disparate and Taliban forces remaining in the city" despite reports from Afghanistan's Tolo cable news network that showed footage on Monday of Taliban fighters moving freely about the city.

Afghan forces battled the Taliban in a key provincial capital for the fourth straight day on Monday, following a massive assault on the eastern city last week that overwhelmed its defenses and allowed insurgents to capture several parts of it, officials said.

He said that USA personnel were on the ground in an advisory role and United States air power had killed 140 Taliban since August 10, with two airstrikes on Monday morning alone.

American troops operating under the command of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan have been advising Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and conducting airstrikes since Friday.

"194 enemy fighters, including 12 of their key commanders, have also been killed", he added.

Ghazni lies on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, an important artery connecting the capital to the country's southern provinces and some of its western ones.

As many as 100 Afghan soldiers were killed and injured, while over 200 Taliban militants were dead in ongoing clashes in Ghazni city, officials said on Monday.

Ghazni - around two hours by road from the capital Kabul - has been under increasing danger from massing Taliban fighters for months, with reports suggesting insurgents had infiltrated the city at will.

"I went to the hospital, but it was full of dead bodies with a very bad smell", he said. Tribal leaders and local officials had been repeatedly warning Afghan policymakers in Kabul that the Taliban was preparing for a broad offensive in Ghazni, Jones said.

He said the government had been warned a week ago it appeared a Taliban attack was imminent.

The Taliban have seized several districts across Afghanistan in recent years and stage near-daily attacks on Afghan security forces, but have been unable to capture and hold urban areas.

But the Taliban's ability to mass forces in multiple areas of Afghanistan at virtually the same time -including in Ghazni, Faryab, Baghlan, and Kunduz provinces - should worry Afghan and USA officials.

"Medication at the main hospital is reportedly becoming scarce and people are unable to safely bring casualties for treatment", the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan said in a statement on Monday.

The Taliban swiftly responded, saying the government's claims were "baseless" and that talks were "under way for their surrender". "High profile talks by foreign governments with the Taliban that exclude the Afghan government risk providing too much legitimacy to the Taliban without getting much in return", Wilder said.

Early in 2018 the USA military declared Afghanistan to be its top combat priority, supplanting the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The Taliban assault on Ghazni began as the head of its political office was wrapping up a rare diplomatic foray in neighboring Uzbekistan. These and other moves boosted the number of US troops in Afghanistan by at least 3,500, to a total of more than 14,000.

Diplomats in Kabul said the government had admitted being taken by surprise by the attack and after days with minimal public comment from the presidential palace, Ghani announced on Twitter that reinforcements would be sent urgently.

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