Taliban Kills 120 Afghan Troops, Civilians as It Storms Ghazni amid Peace Talks

Assaults by Taliban raise questions about US plan for peace
AP Photo/Mohammad Anwar Danishyar

A Taliban offensive to conquer the city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, the capital of a province of the same name, reportedly killed about 100 Afghan security forces and at least 20 civilians since it began last Friday.

“City remains under Afghan government control. Afghan National Defense and Security Forces [ANDSF] continue to conduct clearing operations,” the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan, dubbed Resolute Support (RS), wrote on Twitter on Tuesday:

On Monday, the U.S.-NATO military noted that American “airpower [had] delivered decisive blows to Taliban” jihadists:

“Afghan security forces on Tuesday pushed back the Taliban from Ghazni, the provincial capital of a province with the same name, and were trying to flush the insurgents from the city’s outskirts,” the Associated Press (AP) acknowledged Tuesday.

Until Tuesday, the U.S. military had been providing the ANDSF with air support to repel the Taliban offensive on Ghazni.

As the clashes continued in Ghazni on Monday, the Taliban captured an Afghan military base manned in northern Faryab province, located along Afghanistan’s border with Turkmenistan.

AP reported that Taliban terrorists killed 17 soldiers and wounded 19 others as they overran the base in northern Afghanistan late on Monday.

Referring to Ghazni, National Public Radio (NPR) reported Monday:

The Taliban’s surprise attack Friday on the city of Ghazni has now killed around 100 members of Afghanistan’s police and security forces and between 20 and 30 civilians, Afghan officials said Monday.

A U.S. military spokesman told NPR’s Diaa Hadid that some 140 Taliban insurgents have also died – meaning the fighting has already cost nearly 300 lives since the Taliban launched its assault. Afghan officials differed in their account, saying nearly 200 Taliban fighters have been killed.

Since the Taliban attacked the city on Friday, its fighters have taken control of some areas and have tried to entrench themselves in defensive positions.

Some news outlets estimate a much higher death toll in Ghazni at the hands of the Taliban narco-jihadists who have also suffered significant losses as Afghan forces, backed by U.S. advisors and airstrikes, attempt to repel the assault on the provincial capital.

Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday:

About 100 members of the Afghan security forces were killed in the clashes, Ghafor Ahmad Jawed, a Defense Ministry spokesman, told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. The United Nations cited reports that there may have been up to 150 civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, more than 220 Taliban guerrillas were killed by U.S. airstrikes, according to USFOR-A. [U.S. Forces-Afghanistan].

Taliban terrorists have launched other major attempts to seize and hold provincial capitals in recent years, namely in Kunduz and Farah provinces.

However, the terrorist group has been unable to hold urban areas. Taliban-controlled territory in Afghanistan lies in the rural regions of the country.

The recent assaults on Ghazni and Faryab provinces come less than a month after reports surfaced that a top U.S. State Department official met with the Taliban in Qatar to discuss peace and ultimately ending the nearly 17-year-old war.

It appears the Taliban has intensified its attacks amid news reports of peace negotiations with the United States and Afghanistan.

The day after the attack on Ghazni began on August 10, AP reported:

In a rare diplomatic foray and the strongest sign yet of increasing Taliban political clout in the region, the head of the insurgents’ political office led a delegation to Uzbekistan to meet senior Foreign Ministry officials there, Uzbek and Taliban officials said.

On Sunday, Ehsanullah Taheri, the spokesman of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a wide-encompassing body tasked with finding a path to peace with the government’s armed opponents, said Uzbek officials had the Afghan government’s approval for the meeting.

Ghazni is strategically located about 100 miles southwest of the Afghan capital of Kabul, providing access to the country’s southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, considered the heartland of the Taliban’s power and influence.

Stars and Stripes notes:

The Taliban’s surprise attack on the city, which lies astride the main highway between the capital and the south of the country, appeared to represent a major intelligence failure and highlighted the government’s inability to gain the initiative despite 16 years of massive American support, which has cost the U.S. $1 trillion and about 2,400 military lives. The rare attack on a major population center also disrupted months of optimism over advances in the peace process.

On several occasions, the U.S. military has refused to make public the progress or lack thereof of the American taxpayer-funded ANDSF troops, which includes police and army units.

Although the United States has devoted most the funds (about $80 billion) allocated for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan to develop the Afghan forces, the ANDSF continues to suffer from capability lapses.

On Tuesday, Stars and Stripes acknowledged that the U.S. military has seemingly ended its air campaign in Ghazni as the ANDSF continues to lead a counteroffensive focused on rooting Taliban remnants out of Ghazni.

Refusing to provide additional details, the U.S. military in Afghanistan reportedly confirmed terrorists wounded an American service member in or around the provincial capital of Ghazni.

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