Taliban, Govt forces’ fight gains speed

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Taliban captures 7th capital; the capture of Farah also provides another border crossing into Iran

News Desk/DNA

KABUL: The Taliban has captured the provincial capital of Farah in southwest Afghanistan, the seventh provincial capital the group has seized since Friday.

“This afternoon the Taliban entered the city of Farah after briefly fighting with the security forces. They have captured the governor’s office and police headquarters,” Shahla Abubar, a member of Farah’s provincial council, told a news agency on Tuesday.

Local sources in the southwestern province of Farah also that the group has taken over the province’s eponymous capital city.

The Taliban has also captured the province’s central prison, according to parliamentarian Abdul Nasri Farahi and provincial council member Shahla Abu Bakr. Farah is now the second provincial city in the southwest of Afghanistan that the group has taken. On Friday, the Taliban captured neighbouring Nimruz province.

The capture of Farah also provides another border crossing into Iran for the group.

Abubar said local security forces had retreated towards an army base outside the city.

Local police spokesman Farooq Khalid told Anadolu Agency that intense clashes between government forces and the Taliban fighters were underway. He claimed that over 80 advancing Taliban fighters were killed by security forces. The Taliban, however, claimed to have reached the city centre.

 “Two checkpoints were captured near the intelligence and police command centre a moment ago… The battle continues and the Mujahideen advance,” tweeted Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed.

In a major push to repel advancing Taliban from urban centres, the Afghan forces claimed killing 361 Taliban fighters in air and ground offensives in the past 24 hours.

The Defense Ministry said the operations were conducted in the Nangarhar, Kunar, Logar, Paktia, Paktika, Maidan Wardak, Kandahar, Sar-e Pol, Helmand, Kunduz, and Baghlan provinces.