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U.S. launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

U.S. launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan city

Terrified Ghazni residents cowered in their homes amid explosions and gunfire as security forces fought to beat the insurgents back.

"We are scared for our life". He said the bodies of the Taliban fighters were found under a bridge in the southern part of Ghazni. "We are terrified", Yasan wrote in a Facebook post.

The Ghazni attack began around 2 a.m. with intense gunbattles raging and fires burning in several shops in the city's residential areas, provincial police chief Farid Ahmad Mashal told The Associated Press.

Officials said clashes between security forces and the Taliban started at around 2am, forcing the closure of the main highway linking Ghazni to Kabul, 150km to the northeast. "There has not been a single minute of silence for the last eight hours", said a senior government official in Ghazni early in the day.

The Taliban issued a statement claiming to have captured "most of government buildings inside the city".

"Meetings by the US, China, Saudi Arabia or any other country with the Taliban is only aimed to facilitate the direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government", said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.

"U.S. forces responded with close-air support and conducted one drone strike", O'Donnell said. After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and USA air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

USA forces "responded with close-air support" in Ghazni, while Afghan security forces "held their ground" and maintained control of all government buildings.

USA attack helicopters and drone aircraft provided government forces with air support. "The whole city is under the control of Afghan forces", Brig.




The Taliban frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting.

Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be on the table.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country since North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States formally ended their combat mission in 2014, and have seized control of several districts.

The Taliban are fighting the Western-backed government to restore their version of sharia, or Islamic law, after they were driven out by US -led forces in 2001.

The attack on Ghazni, the first major urban assault since May, came as Afghan and USA officials have been urging the Taliban to begin peace talks and agree to a second cease-fire after a successful three-day truce in June.

The attack on Ghazni comes as the Taliban faces growing pressure to agree to peace talks with the Afghan government to end the 17-year war.

However, even while conducting preliminary discussions with USA officials, the Taliban have launched a series of operations that underscored their ability to inflict severe damage on Afghan forces.

The Taliban attack came as Ghazni contemplated a cease-fire offer to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month.


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