Afghan forces retake northern district from Taliban
Government forces in Afghanistan have retaken the control of a remote district in the country’s northern province of Badakhshan from Taliban militants, officials say.
Provincial police spokesman Sanaullah Rohani made the announcement on Saturday, saying that army and police forces backed by airstrikes had recaptured the Kohistan district, which had fallen to the militants last week after several days of fierce fighting.
“The Taliban suffered heavy casualties, but there is no updated information on the exact number as the area is remote and the telecommunication system weak,” he said.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish confirmed the development to Tolo News TV and said the Taliban suffered “heavy losses” in the military operation, adding that the operation will continue until the entire district is cleared of militants.
Taliban militants were also pushed back in the Teshkan district, located to the south of the provincial capital, Fayzabad, where they had taken a number of checkpoints.
Fierce fighting across Afghanistan has intensified in recent weeks with the start of the Taliban’s annual so-called spring offensive.
The escalation in attacks by the Taliban indicates the group is barely interested in an offer of peace talks earlier made by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The militant group had earlier offered to talk to the United States, which continues to occupy Afghanistan along with other NATO forces since a military invasion in 2001.
The impasse is blocking a diplomatic path out of America’s longest-running war.
That invasion toppled a Taliban regime in place at the time, and the group has refused to recognize the Afghan government since then.
The Afghan government is under pressure on multiple fronts this year as it prepares to hold long-delayed legislative elections even as its security forces struggle to get the upper hand on the battlefield and prevent civilian casualties.
A recent survey found that the militants were active in two-thirds of the country and were fully controlling four percent of it.