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article imageTaliban assault provincial capital in west Afghanistan

By AFP     Sep 6, 2019 in World

The Taliban launched an offensive Friday against a key city in western Afghanistan, officials said, the latest in a surge of attacks as the US pushes for a deal that would allow it to begin withdrawing troops.

The fighting started early in the morning when insurgents briefly seized an Afghan army recruitment centre in Farah city, the capital of Farah province.

Afghan forces, with US support, were able to push the fighters back a few hours later, Farah police spokesman Mohibullah Mohib said.

"Helicopters with the cooperation of (US) troops have launched air strikes and bombarded the Taliban positions in Farah city," he told AFP.

"The Taliban have been pushed back from the city but fighting is ongoing on the outskirts."

He said 10 Taliban fighters had been killed, along with one paramilitary Afghan police officer.

Farah province, a remote poppy-growing region that borders Iran, has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years, and there have long been fears that its capital is vulnerable.

In May last year, the Taliban made a major attempt to capture Farah city but were eventually driven back by Afghan and US forces.

US Army Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said on Friday that American assistance to Afghan forces was ongoing.

"We continue to support our ANDSF partners as they thwart the Taliban's attack on Farah," he told AFP, using the abbreviation for the Afghan police and army.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi had earlier said a "massive operation" was underway.

The Taliban have been stepping up operations in recent days even as they negotiate with Washington for a deal that would see the US pull troops from Afghanistan in return for various security guarantees.

On Saturday, the group attempted to seize the provincial capital of Kunduz in the north and sporadic fighting continued on the outskirts all week.

And on Sunday, they launched an operation in the city of Pul-e Khumri, the capital of neighbouring Baghlan province.

The capital Kabul has also been rocked by back-to-back bombings this week that have claimed dozens of lives.

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