The First Major Assault
With the US withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban has started regaining strength rapidly! More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers reportedly fled to neighbouring Tajikistan on July 5 after a series of clashes with the Taliban on July 3 and 4. According to sources close to Kabul, the Islamist movement and military organisation has already occupied the northern part of the war-ravaged South Asian country, including 13 districts of Kandahar, Badakhshan and Kunduz Provinces, after the US and NATO troops started leaving the country on May 1. At the same time, the Afghan troops are also retreating. However, the Afghan Army has claimed that it would soon launch the counter-attack.
Abdul Basir, the Commander of a battalion in the north-eastern Afghan Province of Badakhshan, said that the Taliban had been carrying out attacks on the Afghan Army near the border with Tajikistan for three days. Despite trying to resist with all their might, the Army had to retreat. The Army urged the Government to send more troops from other military bases. However, the Government took time to respond. As the Afghan soldiers did not want to surrender to the Taliban, they fled to Tajikistan.
Later, the National Security Committee of Tajikistan issued a statement, saying that 1,037 Afghan Government troops had fled into the ex-Soviet country “to save their lives” after clashes with the Taliban during the night. “Taking into account the principle of good neighbourliness and adhering to the position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, the military personnel of the Afghan Government Forces were allowed to enter Tajik territory,” added the Committee.
Hamdullah Mohib, the National Security Adviser of Afghanistan, has claimed that the Afghan Forces would soon launch an attack on Taliban forces in the northern part of the country. However, Defence Experts are of the opinion that it would not be that easy. Analyst Atta Noori of Kabul University stressed: “Afghan forces have lost their morale. They are confused – in almost every district that the Taliban capture, they send a team of elders to talk to the soldiers and get them to surrender. It is an emergency situation for the Afghan Government. They need to step up their counter-offensive as soon as possible.”
The Afghan people have also started losing faith in their forces. “We are so tired of this war. At least today, the right thing was done, and one side should take control,” said Shir Mohammad Barekzai, a resident of Helmand’s Nawa District that was seized by the Taliban on July 5.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Defence Ministry issued a statement on July 18, saying that at least 53 Taliban militants were killed and 38 others injured in multiple airstrikes and fierce battles in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours. According to the statement, 18 militants were killed and 24 wounded in Kapisa Province, after the Afghan Air Force (AAF) conducted airstrikes in support of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in Tagab and Nijrab Districts. Earlier, the Taliban claimed that they had already occupied nearly 85% of the Afghan territories. Foreign Missions in Afghanistan called for Taliban ceasefire on July 19, as Peace Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Government officials failed. Taliban made no mention of a halt to the violence after a delegation of Afghan leaders met Taliban’s political leadership in Doha over the weekend.
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