Afghan forces fight Taliban in Lashkargah, clashes intensify in Herat
Aghan forces battled the Taliban in Lashkargah as the fighting intensified in the city in southern Helmand province and the frontline was in District 1 where the US conducted an airstrike on Monday morning. According to Tolo News, Helmand lawmakers have said the clashes in District 1 are focused on capturing the district governor’s compound and that the prison and the police headquarters are under siege. “We will soon witness the fall of Lashkargah if the situation continues,” Shogufa Nawrozi, an MP from Helmand, said, according to the news channel.
The clashes intensified just hours after the Aghan government announced the deployment of hundreds of commandos to the area. “Fighting is underway in Lashkargah. The security forces are not in a good condition there,” Mohammad Jami, a civil society activist from Helmand, was quoted as saying by the news channel.
Another civil society activist from the province said that the Taliban is hiding in people’s houses and using them as shields.
Tolo News reported citing people familiar with the development that the Taliban has taken over 12 districts in Helmand, except Kajaki, and has captured nine out of 10 districts in the city of Lashkargah. They added that Matiullah Popal, the acting police chief for Nawzad district in Helmand, was killed while fighting the Taliban in Lashkargah on Monday morning.
According to the Tolo News report, nine bodies and eight wounded were taken to the Emergency Hospital in Lashkargah on Monday.
Doctors Without Border said casualties were mounting in Lashkar Gah. "There has been relentless gunfire, air strikes and mortars in densely populated areas. Houses are being bombed, and many people are suffering severe injuries," Sarah Leahy, the medical charity's coordinator for Helmand, in a statement.
The Taliban has sustained heavy casualties in the clashes raging in Helmand, the Afghan defense ministry has said. At least 40 Taliban terrorists were killed in an airstrike on Lashkargah city by the US, the Afghanistan ministry of defence has said. "Air forces conducted two airstrikes at 06:10 pm and 07:05 pm on gatherings of Taliban terrorists in two parts of Lashkargah," Maiwand 215th Corps tweeted.
The Khaama Press reported eight members of a family, including children, are said to be killed in the airstrike.
Tolo News cited government figures showing that 455 Taliban were killed in Afghan forces operations in the past 24 hours and 232 more were wounded. The Taliban has denied this claim.
Meanwhile, clashes entered the sixth day in Herat city on Monday, specifically in districts 2, 3, 7 and 14 as well as in the southern parts of Herat's capital near Injil district, reported Tolo News.
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"We have air support and the Taliban's gatherings have been targeted in various parts of Herat city where they have sustained heavy casualties," Tolo News quoted Herat's governor General Abdul Saboor Qani as saying.
Herat is the second provincial capital city along with Lashkargah where heavy clashes have been underway for the past few days.
President Ashraf Ghani blamed the US for the deteriorating security situation in his country. Ghani said he had warned Washington that the withdrawal would have "consequences". "The reason for our current situation is that the decision was taken abruptly," Ghani told parliament, referring to the withdrawal of foreign forces.
On Monday, the United States and the United Kingdon accused the Taliban of atrocities that may amount to "war crimes" in the town of Spin Boldak, which the insurgents captured last month along the border with Pakistan. "These murders could constitute war crimes," the embassies said in separate tweets.
Taliban leadership must be held responsible, they said. "If you cannot control your fighters now, you have no business in governance later."