Taliban Threaten to Capture Major Cities as Conflict Intensifies Countrywide

KABUL: Afghan security forces and the Taliban fighters engage in intense clashes in various parts of the country. 


The fighting has advanced into major Afghan cities before the full withdrawal of international troops would complete on August 31.


According to local officials, heavy fighting between the two sides is currently going on in the capitals of Herat and Helmand and the outskirts of Kandahar province.


On Saturday night, Kandahar International Airport was hit with three rockets fired from an unidentified location that canceled all domestic and international flights. Local officials said that the flights would probably resume until Monday afternoon.


A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed that their fighters involved in the rockets firing.


According to the 205 Corps Command’s statement, Afghan forces launched airstrikes against the Taliban in Nechin location of Kandahar city on Monday night.


The source said that nine militants were killed and six others were wounded as well as some weapons belonged to the rebels destroyed in the attack.


Airstrikes were also carried out in the 13th police district, 15th police district and 7th police district of Kandahar city, that resulted in killing a child and injuring 10 other civilians including three of them minors.


Elsewhere, all flights in Herat province were also canceled following continued clashes between the Afghan forces and the Taliban in parts of the provincial capital.


Last Friday, Taliban militants attacked a UN compound in Herat province, leaving a security guard killed and two others wounded. The organization strongly condemned the incident.


Various locations in Herat city were bombarded, forcing several market places to shut temporarily.


After serious confrontations with defense forces and the public uprising forces, the Taliban are escaping from Herat’s Malan and Ghaibatan villages, a local media outlet reported.


However, Afghan forces and supporters of Ismail Khan, former Jihadi leader, are reportedly retreated from the Isar locality of the city following a fierce fight.


There are also reports of intense fights in Lashkargah city, the capital of Helmand province. Taliban on Sunday claimed that the group took complete control of the ninth police district of Lashkargah city on Saturday night.


As of Tuesday, there are reports of heavy fighting in the second, third and ninth police district of the Herat city. According to locals, the clashes usually clam down at nighttime but resume in the afternoon.


The first and fifth police districts of Herat city are the only locations with relative stability.


 


Afghan defense forces today said 15 Taliban militants were killed when the group’s checkpoint in Pashtun Pul area of Herat was targeted with airstrikes.


The Taliban has not yet commented on their casualties.


A day earlier, a car bomb exploded in Haji Abbas are of Herat city, leaving five civilians including two women killed  and  11 others injured.


Herat Provincial Civil Hospital officials say that so far, 25 people, including six civilians and 19 soldiers, have been killed while 175, including 100 civilians, have been injured since clashes begun in the city.


Dr. Arif Jalali, head medic of the Herat local hospital, said that 10 children and seven women were among those injured in the battle.


Some sources claim the number of casualties is much higher.


There are no exact reports of the Taliban losses.


Similarly, there have been confrontations between the government forces and the insurgency group in Faryab province.


Faryab police chief said that the Taliban attacks in Dehsan, Deh Azizan, Kohekhana, and Baba Qeshqar areas on the outskirts of Maymana city were repulsed after hours of fighting during which five insurgents were killed and three others wounded.


According to the latest reports, 12 insurgency militants were killed, and four were injured in Pashtonkot district of Faryab.


In Helmand, residents report of the Taliban attacks on the police headquarters, the governor’s office, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the central prison, all in the provincial center, Lashkargah.


The attacks are reported to have happened on Monday evening.


Reports suggest that many parts of the city are under the control of the Taliban and that various parts of the city, including the Bost university within the city are being bombarded by the defense forces to push back the group.


On the other hand, the Afghan army said that Afghan security forces had launched large-scale operations for improving the security situation and recapturing areas lost to the Taliban.


The insurgent group has increased attacks in various locations of Afghanistan, ahead of the last withdrawal of foreign forces that would complete in about a month.


Many civilians are also killed or wounded, and public facilities and people’s properties were damaged during the ongoing unrest that also forced thousands of Afghans to flee their homes and take refuge in safer places.


In a report on July 26, the UN said that more women and children were killed and wounded in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in the first six months of any year since the United Nations began systematically keeping count in 2009.


The war-torn country saw a 47% increase in the number of all civilians killed and wounded in violence across Afghanistan in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to the report.


This comes as intra-Afghan peace negotiations, which launched around a year back in Doha, are almost futile as no breakthroughs made in the process so far.


Seeking peace and stability, Afghans have been urging all parties of the conflict to put an end to the bloodshed going on for over four decades, by reaching a peaceful settlement.