USA and Afghanistan launch air strikes as Taliban attack western city

Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off

Reuters

"There is no danger of Farah city collapsing into the hands of Taliban", he added.

United States and Afghan aircraft on Tuesday bombed Taliban positions in the western city of Farah after the insurgents launched a major attempt to capture the provincial capital, with fearful residents seeking shelter from explosions and gunfire. Dozens of Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents have been killed and injured.

A lucrative drug route crosses the embattled province, connecting largely Taliban-held Helmand province to the south with Iran in the west. "The worldwide coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure that will force them to come to the table", Votel said during a visit to Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe.

Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the defence ministry in Kabul said they have ordered security forces from neighbouring provinces to travel to Farah to protect civilians and government buildings. "Gun battles, air strikes and explosions are taking place around the city", he told Xinhua earlier by phone.

In a statement circulated online Monday, the extremist group says four attackers took part in the assault the day before on the finance directorate in Jalalabad.

"We are hoping to get control of the fighting in the city", he said.

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Abdullah, who had been speaking at the Council of Ministers Meeting, said in recent days hundreds of soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war against militants.

Kabul officials acknowledged to local media that security forces had suffered recent casualties in fighting to retake parts of Farah, Baghlan and Ghor provinces, though some defense officials disputed reports that military losses had reached 700 dead and wounded in recent weeks.

So far, it seems to have done little to curb the Taliban advance, and despite the pressure the insurgents haven't shown much interest in the government's offer of a comprehensive peace agreement. The residents feared that the Taliban radical movement would gain control of the city if the government did not send more troops soon, the media outlet said.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman said the Taliban has already claimed responsibility for the attacks.

According to the local Tolo News, in the last 19 days, since the start of the Taliban's Spring Offensive, the group carried out over 2,700 attacks which resulted in numerous fatalities.

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