(Kandahar) On Sunday, Afghan and Taliban troops attacked urban fighting in Lashkar Gah, one of the three Afghan provincial capitals directly threatened by insurgents.
Posted on Aug 1, 2021 at 10:35 am
Forced back from Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Helmand province, for the first time on Saturday, the insurgents returned in force on Sunday and were able to penetrate the city of 200,000 again.
“There is fighting in the city and we have called for the use of special forces,” said Ataullah Afghan, chairman of Helmand’s provincial council, on Sunday.
Taliban and Afghan forces “collide street by street” and the city is being “bombed,” said a resident of Badshah Khan on Sunday, adding that the insurgents had confiscated several administrative buildings. He spoke of a “dead city” with streets littered with corpses.
“We heard fire and handguns, machine guns, snipers and artillery from the hospital all night and morning,” said Viktor Urosevic, medical coordinator at Lashkar. Gah from the Italian NGO Emergency, in a press release from the organization.
The 98 beds in the emergency hospital were partially all occupied in the last 24 hours, he added. “Currently we are 90% occupied and are taking in patients who urgently need life-saving care.”
In Kandahar, the capital of the neighboring province of the same name, Helmand, the airport’s runway, which was damaged by two missiles overnight, had been repaired and air traffic resumed, said the airport’s director, Massoud Pashtun, on Sunday.
“We fired the missiles on [l’aéroport de] Kandahar, because they bomb us there, ”said Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban.
Kandahar Airport shares its only runway with a military airfield, essential to supply the Afghan armed forces who have been in the suburbs of this 650,000-inhabitant city, the second in the country to which thousands have fled, for several weeks the Taliban face the struggle.
On Sunday, the insurgents also moved closer to the borders of Herat, on the fourth consecutive day of fighting near that city, and opened a new front from the western suburbs, while fighting has been concentrated mainly south of the city in recent days.
“The Taliban attacked in morning district No. 7, a few kilometers west of the city,” but were pushed back, “said Jailani Farhad, spokesman for the governor of Herat province.
According to an AFP correspondent, anti-Italian militiamen from Ismail Khan, a powerful local warlord and veteran of the war against the Soviet occupation (1979-1989), faced the Taliban about 7 km west of the city during the day.
About ten kilometers south of Herat, the insurgents occupied a bridge, Pul Malan, and clashed with Afghan forces near another bridge, Pashtun Pol, on the road from Herat to the airport on Sunday.
The Afghan Ministry of Defense announced the arrival of hundreds of special forces soldiers in Herat on Sunday “to step up offensive operations and destroy the Taliban”.
In the past few weeks the Taliban have occupied two border posts in Herat province, that of Islam Qala, the main border crossing with Iran, and that of Torghundi with Turkmenistan.
The case of Kandahar, a city where the Taliban made the epicenter of their regime during their rule over Afghanistan (1996-2001) and enforced their ultra-cold version of Islamic law, or that of Herat, the third largest city in the country (600,000 Residents)) near Iran would be a disaster for the Afghan authorities and for the morale of their soldiers, who are already badly damaged.
They would also heighten doubts about the ability of the Afghan army to prevent the Taliban from seizing power by force.
Over the past three months, they have captured vast rural areas during an offensive for the final withdrawal of international forces from the country, which is now almost complete.
The Afghan armed forces have so far offered little resistance and essentially only control the main roads and the provincial capitals, some of which are surrounded.
On Sunday, the UN Mission to Afghanistan (Unama) called on the Taliban to investigate and respond to the attack on their offices in Herat.