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The Taliban still wield influence over significant parts of Afghanistan. They have already captured vast tracts of Ghazni province were on the brink of falling to the Taliban according to the locals and now the militants have been reported to have ascertain further control of the area around 100 miles south of the capital Kabul. There have been heavy clashes between Taliban fighters and government forces late on Sunday which saw them take Ajristan district of Ghazni – with Taliban fighters closing in on government forces – and coming closer to the police headquarters and government quarters.
The risk of Taliban fighters encroaching on the Afghan capital shows the failure of NATO to curb their onslaught in the last two decades. Which brings us to the question of whether the US and its allies presence in Afghanistan has been doing more harm than good. It certainly appears to be the case.
A spokesperson for the country’s ministry of Defense (MOD) told Fox News Sunday that the Afghan National Armed Forces (ANSF) were fighting back courageously and over the past 24 hours alone had launched 12 joint offensive and scheduled offensive operations, launched 79 commando operations and 10 air strikes “aimed at protecting people’s lives and repressing terrorists across the country.” Air force specialists conducted 69 flights to support ANA ground forces – killing 110 militants, 15 wounding and leading to the arrest of 3 more. The operation stretched across an array of some 12 Taliban-torn provinces including Ghazni and Farah.
The Afghan forces may be fighting back courageously but they still have a long way to go in overcoming the group. The Taliban are more experienced in skirmish warfare and clandestine terrorist attacks and are better at holding out in Afghanistan’s inhospitable mountainous terrain. So as far as launching commando operations and air strikes which would weaken Taliban control of Ghazni and Farah are concerned I hope the ANSF have been trained in mountain warfare as well as anti-terrorism combat. They most likely are. The American forces still command a presence in Afghanistan although its hard to say what the overall public opinion of the war is.
“You see mid-level, senior-level Taliban leaders engaging with Afghans,” said Army General John Nicholson, adding that a lot of the diplomatic activity was taking place “off the stage.” Nicholson’s remarks came the same day that gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers attempted to penetrate the heavily fortified headquarters of the Afghan interior ministry, battling security forces for more than two hours in the latest attack on the capital Kabul.
The attack was a reminder of the challenges facing U.S.- backed afghan forces even after 16 years of war, including in the capital Kabul. Last month, two explosions in Kabul killed at 26 people, including nine journalists.
The Afghans are at the same time in negotiations with the Taliban, although what that will achieve remains to be seen. Washington will remain weary of these talks been held. The Taliban have always been considered a militant group in the eyes of the US and they are allied with Al-Qaeda who are flourishing in Afghanistan under the late Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden. The matter of militancy has plagued Afghanistan since the US invasion since 2001. Meanwhile Kabul remains under siege as the Taliban gain ground. So, what is NATO doing right now?
They are most likely engaging in the push back against the Taliban and it remains to be seen what, will the future of the US occupation, will be.
These will be interesting times.