KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban forces attacked the northern Afghan metropolis of Kunduz on Saturday, Afghan and Taliban officers stated, at the same time as the US and the hardline Islamist group appear near finalizing a deal for the withdrawal of American troops.
Heavy combating has been occurring in Kunduz metropolis after the Taliban fighters mounted assaults from a number of instructions on Friday evening, forcing the Afghan forces to retaliate and safe reinforcement to forestall the insurgents from gaining management over elements of town.
Electrical energy and most phone providers had been lower and residents had been sheltering of their homes.
“Town is totally empty, outlets are locked, folks aren’t transferring and lightweight and heavy weapons may be heard in a number of elements of town,” stated native resident Khaluddin, who like many Afghans goes by a single title.
Authorities officers in Kunduz and Kabul stated the Taliban had been in search of shelter inside properties, making it not possible for Afghan and U.S. forces to conduct air strikes, and a few of the fighters had entered the primary hospital within the metropolis.
The inside ministry stated at the very least 34 Taliban insurgents had been killed in floor and air operations in three areas of Kunduz metropolis and clearance operations had been underway.
“Safety forces are repelling the Taliban assault on some elements of Kunduz metropolis. Their prime precedence is to guard the civilians,” stated Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“As all the time the Taliban have taken positions in civilian areas,” he stated in a tweet.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the assault on Kunduz metropolis. Over the previous two years, the rebel group has thrice managed to grab massive elements of areas surrounding town earlier than being pushed off after days of combating with the Afghan forces and air strikes carried out by the U.S. forces.
The combating in Kunduz, a strategic northern metropolis that the Taliban got here near capturing twice lately, got here as expectations have grown that U.S. and Taliban negotiators in Doha had been near securing an settlement that may see a timetable for the withdrawal of 1000’s of U.S. troops.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat main the talks for Washington, is anticipated in Kabul within the coming days to stipulate the phrases of a settlement to the Afghan president forward of conferences with NATO companions.
A U.S.-Taliban accord wouldn’t in itself finish the combating in Afghanistan however it will open the best way for talks between the Taliban and the federal government in Kabul for a wider peace settlement.
U.S. President Donald Trump stated on Friday the US had good negotiations occurring with the Taliban however had not but reached a take care of the Islamist group on U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Sources within the Taliban stated Trump’s assertion that the US will proceed to take care of a drive in Afghanistan even after a deal was reached was unacceptable to them as they demand a whole pull-out of overseas forces from the nation.
About 20,000 overseas troops, most of them American, are actually in Afghanistan as a part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to coach, help and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces perform counter-terrorism operations.
Regardless of peace talks, combating between the Taliban and Afghan forces, who’re backed by U.S. air energy, has not subsided.
An American service member was killed in fight operations in Afghanistan on Thursday, the U.S. navy stated, the third to be killed right here previously eight days.
Reporting by Sardar Razmal in Kunduz, Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Enhancing by Jacqueline Wong