Afghan Forces Move Into Ghazni in Bid to Defeat Taliban

Afghan security forces keep watch at a checkpoint on the Ghazni highway in Maidan Shar the capital of Wardak province

He did not offer a breakdown of the casualties, but Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said almost 70 police officers were among those killed.

Mustafa's wife, Razia, said they had no food, water or and electricity for four days.

But the offensive in Ghazni, which Afghan officials said was carefully planned and involved insurgents from multiple provinces, showed that the Taliban plans to keep fighting to improve its negotiating position.

Trump also gave the USA military more leeway to attack the Taliban, and a few thousand additional US troops were sent to Afghanistan this year as part of an effort to improve the effectiveness of training and advising Afghan ground forces, while also developing a small Afghan air force. The U.S. has also sent advisors to aid Afghan forces amid the fight. Moreover, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are reported to have killed an additional 190 Taliban fighters, including 12 commanders.

Ghazni lies along the major Kabul-Kandahar highway, effectively serving as a gateway between Kabul and the militant strongholds in the south.

Over 300 people, including 100 government troops and 30 civilians, have been killed in the intense fighting between Taleban militants and the security forces in Afghanistan's Ghazni city, the country's Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami said on Monday.

The fall of Ghazni would mark an important victory for the Taliban, and would cut off a key highway linking the capital to the southern provinces.

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.

"That said, clearing operations are ongoing and sporadic clashes with the Taliban, particularly outside the city, continue", he said.

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As of May 2018, about 35% of the Afghan population - almost 12 million civilians - either lived under the Taliban's direct rule or in contested areas, according to the latest report to Congress from the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but have since then repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces as they struggle to combat the resurgent Taliban.

He also added that first police district of the city has been cleared of the militants and the transfer of the dead and wounded personnel would start today.

The Taliban say they met with Alice Wells, the top USA diplomat for South Asia, in Qatar last month for preliminary talks.

"Medication at the main hospital is reportedly becoming scarce and people are unable to safely bring casualties for treatment", said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "High profile talks by foreign governments with the Taliban that exclude the Afghan government risk providing too much legitimacy to the Taliban without getting much in return", Wilder said.

Another witness, Abdul Wasih, 59, said his son was wounded in the leg by a mortar attack Sunday that killed five of his close relatives.

The Taliban launched the assault in the early hours of Friday.

Early in 2018 the USA military declared Afghanistan to be its top combat priority, supplanting the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that "further reinforcements should be dispatched to the province on urgent basis".

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