Afghan forces fight to recapture Taliban-held district outside Kabul

Afghan forces fight to recapture Taliban-held district outside Kabul

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Kabul: A local official said that the Afghan security forces acted to retake the Taliban-controlled area on the outskirts of the capital Kabul on Wednesday before the three-day ceasefire began at midnight.

The Taliban insurgents killed or captured some government soldiers and forced others to retreat after attacking the center of the Waddak district, less than an hour’s drive from Kabul.

Government forces have been working hard to resist intensified attacks by the insurgents because the U.S. forces withdrew from the country after more than two decades of fighting in the country.

Wardak mayor Zarifa Ghafari said that if the district was not taken soon, fighting would reach the gates of Kabul in a few days.

The defence ministry said on Wednesday special forces have been deployed in the area to retake the district after troops made a “tactical retreat” on Tuesday.

A senior government official said they aimed to regain control before a three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban for the Muslim religious holiday of Eid, which starts on Thursday.

“We will have to do it today because after the ceasefire, it will give the Taliban enough time to dig in and will complicate the operations and increase our casualties,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The government carried out air strikes at the start of the operation, the defence ministry said.

Over the years, the insurgents have maintained a strong presence near Vodaq and Logar Province in the south. Afghan officials say the Taliban have used these provinces as launch pads for raids and suicide bombings in Kabul.

As the United States began withdrawing its troops and closing some bases on May 1, the Taliban has been conducting a campaign for several months to expand its national influence to comply with the peace agreement signed with the Taliban last year.

Afghan officials say that since Washington announced last month that it plans to withdraw all US troops on September 11, the Taliban have intensified their attacks.

Critics of the decision to withdraw say the Islamist militants will try to sweep back into power.

U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001 for sheltering the al-Qaeda militants involved in the September 11 attacks on the United States.

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