Published: Thu, August 16, 2018

Taliban overrun Afghan military base after days of fighting

Taliban overrun Afghan military base after days of fighting

Dozens more are feared captured in what is seen as a stinging blow to the security forces already struggling to push insurgents from eastern Ghazni. "All we heard from officials were lies and deceit and the people know this", said Etemadi, who added that fighting was still going on. "Large parts of the base are still under the Taliban control", Rahmani said.

By late Tuesday, the Taliban appeared to have lost the first war, with the smoldering city relatively calm and most insurgent fighters in retreat.

"Clearly the Taliban have paid no heed to the calls of the Afghan people for them to reconcile and join the peace process", USA spokesman Lt Col Martin O'Donnell said on Tuesday.

The Taliban swiftly responded, saying the government s claims were "baseless" and that talks were "under way for their surrender". The Taliban said on Monday 266 members of government forces had been killed.

Analysts have said the insurgents may be seeking to demonstrate strength as they come under increasing pressure to join peace takls after the ceasefire during Eid in June. "It will take months for it all to be rebuilt", he said.

Ghazni, further east and which the Taliban first assaulted late Thursday, remains in government hands, officials have said. With such strategic interests in finding a way to deal with the emanating threats, the legitimacy of the talks for peacemaking can be questioned.

The spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Kabul says the Taliban have overrun a military base in northern Afghanistan, killing 17 soldiers and wounding at least 19 troops. Both attacks were typical of recent insurgent tactics, in which they have made steady inroads in rural regions. He reiterated that Ghazni was completely under government control.

A spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan, Lt Col Martin O'Donnell, said there had been "no reported enemy activity" so far on Tuesday, though he added that "some Taliban forces remain in the city".

According to O'Donnel, in terms of Resolute Support assistance to the Afghan-led clearance operation, Task Force-Southeast, US Special Forces and 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade advisors are providing advice on things such as clearance operations and combined-arms integration.

Hundreds of people have fled four days of fierce fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban over the key provincial capital of Ghazni that has killed about 120 security forces and civilians, the defense minister and witnesses said Monday.

The violence has shattered faint hope for moves towards a peace process generated by an unprecedented three-day truce during the Eid Al Fitr holiday in June, and a Taliban report late last month of a meeting between a senior USA diplomat and Taliban representatives in Doha. On the other hand, Sohail Shahin, a spokesperson for the Taliban's political office in Qatar says "it (has been) what we wanted and were waiting for - to sit with the USA directly and discuss the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan".

A doctor in the hospital s intensive care unit said they had received over 80 dead bodies as of Sunday and had treated more than 160 patients, many of whom were had been injured by gunshots or shrapnel.

The United States has carried out airstrikes and sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces in the city of 270,000 people.

"The fall of Ghazni once again illustrated the gulf between Kabul's and Washington's self-delusion" about a negotiated settlement, "and the Taliban's military-centric strategy", Moradian said. But he also asserted that the insurgents have sustained a rigid ideological goal that would be very hard to appease. Picture taken on August 12, 2018.

A major Taliban assault on Ghazni has triggered five days of fighting with Afghan security forces, with reports of scores dead and the strategic centre left a "ghost city".

U.S. forces in Kabul denied reports that the highway had been blocked by the insurgents, saying Afghan forces remained in control of the area and were carrying out a clearance operation targeting militants. "In some areas, there was no resistance at all".

From several accounts of Ghazni residents who escaped the besieged city, it was clear that the insurgents had sowed terror among the civilian populace.

For the US military, Ghazni province was a key front in 2012 in what was billed as the Americans' last major combat offensive of the Afghan War.

'Those who can are fleeing'.

People fleeing Ghazni have described bodies in the streets, while aid groups said hospitals are struggling to take in the wounded.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Taliban and regional expert, said the Taliban had no desire to hold Ghazni, however - just to show that they could. He said he feared for his life, noting that fighters had entered his cousin's house and found some government ID cards. "They would have burned down the house, too, but the neighbors begged them not to do it".

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