US advising Afghan forces in battle for japanese metropolis

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The United States has despatched army advisers to help Afghan forces in Ghazni, the place they had been struggling on Sunday to regain full management three days after the Taliban launched a large assault on the japanese metropolis.

The assault was a serious present of power by the Taliban, who had infiltrated deep into the town and attacked from a number of instructions. In current years the insurgents have seized a number of districts throughout the nation and staged near-daily assaults on Afghan safety forces, however have been unable to seize and maintain city areas.

The U.S.-led NATO mission has carried out airstrikes in assist of Afghan forces. Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, stated Afghan forces had been engaged in a “cleanup operation,” whereas acknowledging for the primary time that “some U.S. advisers were on the ground.”

The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their fight mission on the finish of 2014, however have repeatedly come to assistance from Afghan forces as they’ve struggled to fight a resurgent Taliban. The insurgents have in the meantime been steadily rising their political profile, demanding direct talks with Washington and lately assembly with officers in neighboring Uzbekistan.

Ghazni, a key metropolis linking areas of Taliban affect barely 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the capital, Kabul, got here below assault early Friday. The Taliban declare to have seized elements of the town, whereas Afghan officers insist the state of affairs is below management. The Taliban have destroyed a communications tower, severing cellphone hyperlinks and making it tough to substantiate particulars of the combating.

Afghanistan’s Tolo News reported reinforcement convoy of Afghan forces was ambushed Sunday because it made its method from neighboring Paktia province to Ghazni. They had been hunkered down about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Ghazni, it stated.

The assault on Ghazni started as the pinnacle of the Talban’s political workplace was wrapping up a uncommon diplomatic foray in Uzbekistan. Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai held conferences with Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and different officers.

The Taliban’s four-day journey to Uzbekistan, which ended Friday, was the strongest signal but of the group’s rising regional clout, whereas the Ghazni assault has highlighted its army prowess.

Gen. Sharif Yaftali, the Afghan army’s chief of employees, stated Sunday that every one strategic and authorities places of work in Ghazni are nonetheless below authorities management. He stated the insurgents had been holed up in residential areas, and predicted that Ghazni can be cleared and the freeway to Kabul reopened in a pair days.

But the Taliban appeared to have seized giant elements of the town and held them regardless of a blistering assault by Afghan troops backed by U.S. helicopter gunships, fighter jets and drones. The Taliban have uploaded movies on social media displaying captured military automobiles and insurgents strolling round and chatting with one another on empty, quiet streets.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is alleged to be contemplating a cease-fire provide for the upcoming Muslim vacation of Eid al-Adha. A 3-day vacation cease-fire in June introduced uncommon quiet to a lot of the nation, however the Taliban rejected a authorities request to increase it.

Instead, they seem intent on searching for a place of power forward of anticipated talks with the United States, which has been at conflict in Afghanistan for almost 17 years.

The Taliban say they met with Alice Wells, the highest U.S. diplomat for South Asia, in Qatar final month for preliminary talks. Washington neither confirmed nor denied the assembly, however acknowledged Wells was in Qatar, the place the Taliban keep an workplace. The Taliban stated they count on one other spherical of talks.

Andrew Wilder, vice chairman of Asia packages on the U.S. Institute of Peace, stated the Taliban’s assault on Ghazni was “a well-timed effort to demonstrate their military power to strengthen their negotiating position prior to another cease-fire and in the event of peace talks.”

O’Donnell, the U.S. army spokesman, stated the Taliban achieved nothing from the Ghazni assault “except another eye-catching, but inconsequential headline.”

But Daniel Markey, a professor on the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, stated U.S. policymakers needs to be involved.

“NATO is eager to claim that this was a strategically inconsequential but headline-grabbing attack,” one thing he stated was “debatable in terms of on-the-ground military strategy.”

“But these headlines obviously reinforce the urgency felt by policymakers in the Trump administration to find a path toward progress with the current approach before the president pulls the plug and does something more dramatic.”

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Gannon reported from Islamabad.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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