Taliban Attack Tests Afghan Forces Near Iran Border


But if the city were to fall to the Taliban, even briefly, it would give the insurgents a major psychological victory.

United States and Afghan aircraft yesterday 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.

Fared Bakhtawer, head of the Farah provincial council, said the insurgents overran several security checkpoints in the provincial capital of the same name and that heavy fighting was underway. The Taliban urged the Afghan nation to boycott the elections and said that the country was "occupied" by foreign forces.

"An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details.

Farah shares borders with restive Helmand province, and according to local media, the militants arrived from Helmand where an intensive security operation is ongoing. Special forces of Afghanistan with air support conducted active operations, but failed to prevent repeated attacks of militants.

As such, Tuesday's offensive "should not have taken government forces off guard", said military analyst and retired general Atiqullah Amarkhail.

"At least seven Taliban militants" militants have been killed and four others have been wounded during a clash in Khanabad district in northern Kunduz province" province, reported Khaama Press" Khaama Press, citing, the Afghan military, as saying.

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The Taliban recently announced that it was launching a new spring offensive, shortly after Afghan officials offered to restart peace talks, and the attack on Farah was its most ambitious assault since then in rural areas of the country.

Schools and government offices were also closed.

"In the last week we retook a few districts from the Taliban and this would not happen without suffering losses".

NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul tweeted that the Afghan army, supported by USA airpower including A-10 Thunderbolts, was "on the offensive" and the city "remains under govt. control".

The Taliban assault was the biggest by the group since the militant regime was ousted from power in 2001. They have intensified armed attacks against security forces across the country since April 25 when the Taliban's so-called yearly rebel offensive started.

But as the hours passed, residents and officials told news agencies by phone that local security forces were still in control of police headquarters and the national intelligence agency facility.