Taliban Clashing With Afghan Forces in Western Farah Province

Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off (VIDEO)

Taliban militants have launched an offensive on the western Afghan city of Farah on Tuesday, with fierce fighting breaking out between insurgents and government forces.

Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the defense ministry in Kabul, said security forces from neighboring provinces had been ordered to Farah to protect civilians and government buildings and said the Taliban had been pushed out of the city.

Taliban militants, who ruled the country before being ousted in late 2001, have intensified armed attacks against security forces since April 25 during their annual rebel offensive.

More than 300 Taliban fighters have been killed in the battle for Farah, provincial Governor Abdul Basir Salangi said on May 16.

One of the attacks was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the other by the Taliban. The Taliban launched attacks from multiple directions early Tuesday aiming to gain control of the city but later faced resistance from reinforced security forces. Farah borders Helmand province, where the Taliban control several districts.

Farah, a remote and sparsely populated province on the border with Iran, has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds of police and soldiers killed and severe losses inflicted even on elite special forces units.

At least two Afghan security forces members had been killed in Tuesday's fighting, said Ahmad Zaki, a doctor at the city's central hospital.

The attack on Farah was the first on a provincial capital this year.

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Another provincial council member, Dadullah Qani, confirmed Hissaini's comments.

The insurgents in a statement warned residents to remain in their homes and "stay calm".

Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

But Salangi says that the security forces will continue their operations to destroy the insurgents in the province.

Despite security concerns, the Taliban have pledged to cooperate with the gas project.

District centers have been lost or threatened in the northern provinces of Baghlan and Badakhshan and there has been heavy fighting in Faryab in the northwest and Ghazni and Zabul, south of Kabul.

"There is no danger of Farah city collapsing into the hands of Taliban", he added. In 2017 insurgents tried three times to overrun the capital, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

A counter offensive operation was in progress as security forces try to bring the situation under control.

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