Advancing Taliban claim headway in 3 more provincial capitals, fighting displaces thousands of families
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – The Afghan forces have launched a major ground and air offensive against the advancing Taliban in Lashkargah, the capital of the restive southern Helmand province, officials confirmed on Thursday.
Gen. Sami Sadat, a young commander of the Afghan National Army’s 215 Maiwand Corps, is heading the offensive with the backing of the US air raids, sources told Anadolu Agency.
“#Lashkargah clearing operation was started last night by Afghan Special Forces. They are hitting the #Taliban HARD! Dozens of ‘terrorists’ were killed by ASF just in the past few hours. No terrorist can’t just run away from the City; first, they’ll DIE. #LashkargahIsTalibansShambles,” tweeted the army.
The country’s Defense Ministry said at least 303 Taliban insurgents were killed in counter-terrorism operations in the past 24 hours alone across different provinces.
The new wave of deadly clashes emerged last week, when the Taliban, after overrunning nearly 200 rural districts, began assaults on major cities as they marched on the Herat city next to Iran, causing panic and anxiety in this third biggest city of an estimated half a million inhabitants.
In this connection, the Taliban’s focal person, Zabihullah Mujahed, in a series of tweets on Thursday asserted that the group made further advances in Sheberghan, the capital of the northern Jawzjan province, Qalat, the capital of the central Zabul province, and Pule-e-Alam, the capital of the eastern Logar province.
A spokesman for the security forces, Gen. Ajmal Shinwari, blamed the Taliban for killing a prominent poet, Abdullah Atifi, in Uruzgan and burning of 172 schools nationwide, but the insurgents rejected their involvement in both.
The spike in the fighting has further displaced over 30,000 families in the past one month alone.
According to the State Ministry for Natural Disaster Management, nearly 5 million people have been displaced due to insecurity and violence in the last two years. The ministry’s fresh figures indicate that 62,480 families have been displaced over the past six months.