Three cities could fall to Taliban as insurgents launch sustained attack

Three cities may fall to Taliban as insurgents launch sustained assault

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The town on the centre of Britain’s lengthy mission in Afghanistan is at risk of falling to the Taliban as Islamist fighters goal key city centres after capturing swathes of the countryside.

Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, is one among three cities underneath sustained assault by insurgents regardless of American air strikes and tried counter-attacks by Afghan authorities forces.

Taliban fighters are stated to be just some hundred yards from the governor’s workplace and residence, a clinic has been bombed and enormous numbers of properties destroyed.

Hundreds of residents who fled to the town from surrounding villages and cities at the moment are taking refuge in a steadily constricting variety of neighbourhoods amid fierce clashes.

Navy reinforcements, desperately wanted for days, solely started to reach on Saturday night, say native Afghan authorities commanders.

The issues of shifting troops into fight zones have been acutely exacerbated by the withdrawal of western air assist after the US president, Joe Biden, introduced the pull-out of US forces.

The Helmandi capital had confronted repeated assaults from the insurgents through the years. However locals say the scenario this time appears extra dire than ever, with the Taliban seemingly decided to take management.

“They’re within the metropolis centre and it appears solely a matter of time earlier than they take over. They appear extra organised than earlier than they usually preserve going ahead regardless of bombing by planes”, stated Walid Mir Mohammed, a 48 12 months outdated businessman.

“Folks need to go away, however they have no idea the place they will go. We’re surrounded, there’s preventing in all places, everybody could be very frightened, quite a lot of the homes have been taken over by the Taliban so they’re getting broken by all of the taking pictures that is happening.”

Checking for Taliban in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand that’s at risk of falling to the militants

(EPA)

Taliban takeover of districts has typically been adopted by retribution. Two males had been publicly hanged in a city close to Lashkar Gah. Those that had labored for the British, American and different Western forces in any capability and nonetheless remained in Lashkar Gah had been extraordinarily nervous about what could occur to them, stated Mr Mir Mohammed.

In the meantime, makes an attempt by the insurgents to seize Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban motion, have continued with firefights inside the town.

Greater than 150,000 folks have fled to the centre after widespread destruction within the surrounding countryside.

Taking up Kandahar, the nation’s second largest metropolis, could be an enormous symbolic in addition to strategic victory for the Talibs. Gaining possession of it, together with Lashkar Gah, would offer a grip on the southern Pashtun heartland which the Afghan authorities is prone to discover troublesome to loosen.

Taliban ways since they started the present marketing campaign, as worldwide forces left, haven’t, nonetheless, centered purely on the south. There have been concerted makes an attempt to take over territories within the north and the west, the house areas of their conventional Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara adversaries in what was the Northern Alliance. Kabul, the capital, is being more and more locked in from all sides.

The third besieged metropolis – Herat, within the west – is underneath assault with preventing in 5 districts, together with the realm the place the airport is predicated. Authorities forces have taken again some areas, however the UN compound within the metropolis got here underneath fireplace on Friday, killing a guard.

An Afghan safety official in Herat, Afghanistan, on Saturday, the place there’s intense preventing by the Taliban.

(EPA)

Ismail Khan, the previous governor of the province and a famend mujaheddin commander in opposition to the Russians, has mobilised a whole bunch of tribal militia and referred to as on residents to arm themselves and begin a “widespread rebellion” in opposition to the insurgents.

What is occurring in Helmand will likely be significantly poignant for the British army with grave disquiet amongst many in regards to the hasty withdrawal by the US-led forces, together with the UK contingent.

Lots of the cities and army bases the place British and American troopers fought, and a whole bunch had been killed and injured, have now been taken over by the Taliban. Afghan forces are holding on in among the others, underneath siege from the insurgents. Western forces, too, typically discovered themselves on the defensive, with the Talibs dominating the encompassing areas, however they might rely on far more efficient army assist, together with far more correct air assist.

In Lashkar Gah, with the insurgents advancing, Afghan authorities warplanes carried out a sequence of raids on Friday and Saturday. A privately owned hospital was hit by the strikes, killing one particular person and injuring three others.

Officers claimed the Taliban moved into the constructing. However Mohammed Din Narwhal, a physician who owned the Afghan Ariana Hospital, denied that. “I used to be informed that the army was given mistaken info by the defence ministry,” he stated.

Safety officers at a roadside test level in Herat, one among three Afghan cities that might fall to the Taliban

(EPA)

There have been claims, nonetheless, {that a} personal clinic that Talibs had taken over was bombed. Attulah Afghan, the pinnacle of the Helmand Provincial Council, stated casualties included civilians in addition to Taliban fighters.

Three months in the past, sustained US airstrikes turned again a Taliban assault to the north and west of the town. Since then, nonetheless, western air assist has been largely “over the horizon”, launched from bases in different international locations.

Captain Azim Abdul-Rahman, who left the Afghan military 14 months in the past after 12 years’ service, together with in Helmand the place he had served alongside British, American and Danish forces, spoke of his disappointment on the means the western withdrawal was carried out.

“There was no want to depart so shortly, this simply gave the Taliban the sign to assault,” stated Captain Abdul-Rahman, who now lives in Kabul. “I really feel very sorry for the households of the British and American troopers who had been killed.

“I can perceive in the event that they ask why this sacrifice was made. For us Afghans the warfare now goes on, it is vitally unhappy.”

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