Taliban launches annual offensive in Afghanistan

03 May, 2017, 01:52 | Author: Priscilla Morrison

US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks in the United States. John Nicholson, the commander of US troops in Afghanistan, referring to the Islamic State cell in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province.

Reuters points out that, "In February, the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said he needed a few thousand more worldwide troops to break a "stalemate" with the Taliban".

A spokesman for the USA military in Afghanistan, Capt William Salvin said the deaths occurred in the same valley where the United States had dropped a massive bomb on a complex of fortified tunnels it says were being used by the Islamic State terror group.

The deployment of the so-called Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB) killed at least 95 jihadists, according to the Afghan defense ministry, but fighting in the area has continued.

The costs of that mission have been highlighted this month by the deaths of three United States service members in operations against ISIS along the border with Pakistan.

"They used helicopters to deploy forces and the sound of heavy fighting could be heard from the site".

Almost 9,000 USA troops remain in Afghanistan; some 7,000 of them train and assist Afghan forces, and about 1,500 are a part of a counter-terrorism unit that mostly targets pockets of al Qaeda and Islamic State fighters, but also engages the Taliban.

Analysts have warned that increasing contacts in recent months between Russian Federation and the Taliban could complicate USA -led efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. On April 8, Army Staff Sgt.

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Some U.S. officials question the benefit of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

The gunmen were dressed in army uniforms and had valid passes to the base, fuelling suspicions of complicity on the 30,000-strong base, where Western instructors are sometimes called on as part of NATO's training, assistance and advisory mission.

But about 2150 of these troops work in a counter terrorism role and are more likely to be engaged in actual combat.

Record numbers of civilians are fleeing areas where fighting is heaviest, straining meagre resources as hundreds of thousands of refugees also returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan past year.

Afghan government troops saw soaring casualties a year ago, up by 35 percent with 6,800 soldiers and police killed in 2016, according to a USA watchdog.

The annual spring offensive normally marks the start of the "fighting season", though this winter the Taliban continued to battle government forces, most successfully in last week's attack on the military base outside the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Fighting has been fierce as US and Afghan special operations forces, backed by hundreds of air strikes, have sought to advance against militant strongholds in recent months.

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