| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

Afghan forces retake two districts from Taliban after days of fierce fighting

Taliban has lost two northern districts after the Afghan forces managed to control them , amid a fierce offensive by the militants which has forced Afghan troops out of some areas.

The Khan Abad in Kunduz and Chah Ab in Takha districts were brought under the control of Afghan security forces following days of intense fighting.

“Over 50 militants were killed in face-to-face fighting and by airstrikes in Khan Abad,” Kunduz Police Chief Farid Mashal said on Tuesday. “Some commanders are also among them.”

At least 40 Afghan security forces were killed or wounded in clashes over the past 24 hours, the official said.

Afghan forces, meanwhile, withdrew from two other districts as the Taliban intensified their attacks to seize the territories.

According to figures released by TOLO News, at least 30 districts have fallen to the militants in less than two months.

“Some areas were handed over to the Taliban in the west without resistance and their equipment was left for militants,” Afghan lawmaker Sadiq Qaderi said. “The root causes of why districts started to fall suddenly should be determined,” he added.

Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, however, said the recent advancements by the Taliban were insignificant and that this narrow line of Taliban territory “will soon be changed into a graveyard.”

Violence has surged across Afghanistan since the United States missed a withdrawal deadline it had agreed with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, last year.

All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn by May 1, but US President Joe Biden pushed that date back to September 11. The decision caused intra-Afghan peace talks — between the Taliban and Kabul — to be suspended.

The Taliban warned that the passing of the May 1 deadline for a complete withdrawal “opened the way for” the militants to take every counteraction they deemed appropriate against foreign forces in the country.

Fighting is now raging in 26 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

A wave of assassinations has also hit the nation, many of them targeting government employees, health workers, media and civil society members.

A provincial health department official said on Tuesday that four health workers were killed and three injured in separate attacks in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad.

No group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks.

Many have warned that the withdrawal of all forces could intensify violence in the absence of a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The US, along with its NATO allies, attacked Afghanistan in 2001, claiming that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda.

The invasion removed a Taliban regime from power but prompted widespread militancy and insecurity across the Asian country.