Afghan security forces repelled a massive Taliban offensive just two days after US forces returned control of a local base to the country’s military.
The Taliban launched a massive offensive in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Monday, while fighting continued the next day, officials and residents said on Tuesday.
Afghan security forces retaliated against the offensive just two days after a handover ceremony, which saw US forces cede control of Camp Antonik to Helmand to the Afghan National Army (ANA).
The offensive comes after militants launched assaults across the country over the failure to meet the US deadline to withdraw troops from the country, as agreed in talks with the Taliban last year .
On Monday, the Taliban launched a massive offensive in the Afghan province of Helmand (pictured: US soldiers handing over a base in Helmand to the Afghan army on May 2)
Attaullah Afghan, the head of Helmand Provincial Council, said the Taliban launched their offensive from several directions on Monday, attacking checkpoints around the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, taking control of some of them.
Speaking of the offensive, a resident claimed that families who could afford to leave had fled, but he was forced to wait with his family in fear before the Taliban were pushed back.
Mulah Jan, a resident of a suburb of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, said: “There was a heavy weapons thunderstorm and explosions in the city and the sound of small arms was like someone was shooting. pop corn.
“I took all of my family to a corner of the room, hearing the loud explosions and bursts of gunfire as if happening behind our walls. ”
The insurgents were pushed back after Afghan security forces launched airstrikes and deployed elite commandos, but fighting continued on Tuesday and hundreds of families were displaced, according to Attaullah Afghan.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said just over 100 Taliban fighters were killed in Helmand, but did not provide details of casualties among Afghan security forces. The Taliban did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
Afghan forces battled the offensive just days after a handover ceremony (above) that saw US forces cede control of Camp Antonik to Helmand to the Afghan National Army.
A Taliban push in Helmand would have a special resonance, as the Desert Province was where American and British forces suffered most of their losses during the 20 Years War.
The Defense Ministry said security forces also responded to Taliban attacks in at least six other provinces in the past 24 hours, including southeast Ghazni and southern Kandahar.
Although the United States did not meet the May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed to during negotiations with the Taliban last year, the withdrawal is currently underway.
As part of the withdrawal, US forces handed over a base in Helmand to Afghan troops just two days ago, where a handover ceremony was held at Camp Antonik.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this month his plan to withdraw the remaining 2,500 troops from the United States on September 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The initial May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US troops has been agreed last year under former President Donald Trump.
The Taliban rejected Biden’s announcement that troops would stay and withdraw over the next four and a half months, as the deadline was met by an upsurge in violence.
Car bomb in Logar province killed nearly 30 people on Friday, while at least seven Afghan servicemen were killed when the Taliban set off explosives smuggled into a tunnel they dug Monday at an army outpost in southern province -west of Farah.
Islamists, emboldened by Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from the country, warned the United States and its NATO allies that there would be “problems” if they failed to retreat quickly in September.
The Defense Ministry said just over 100 Taliban fighters were killed in Helmand, but did not give details of the losses of Afghan forces (above: The American flag was removed during the discount of May 2)
The Defense Ministry said security forces also responded to Taliban attacks in at least six other provinces (pictured: Helmand base handover ceremony on May 2)
Biden’s move appeared to be a one-sided move that ignored dates set by the Taliban and the Afghan government in their Doha deal in February last year following peace talks negotiated by Washington.
It was billed as an “agreement to bring peace” and said that the allies of the United States and NATO should withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months, by May 1, 2021, provided that both parties respect their part of the treaty.
Biden’s new schedule until September infuriated the Taliban who have now sought to distance themselves from US-led pressure for peace.
The group said earlier this month that its delegates would no longer travel to Turkey for a peace conference meant to restart negotiations.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said those responsible for the delay in the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan would be “held accountable.”
Speaking to Twitter, Mujahid said: “If the [Doha] the agreement is violated and the foreign forces fail to leave our country by the specified date, the problems will certainly be aggravated and those who did not comply with the agreement will be held responsible ”.
The news has sparked fears that the Taliban could push up their spring offensive, an increase in attacks that usually occur when the weather warms.
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have warned that Biden’s exit plan risks creating a power vacuum that the Taliban is already seeking to fill.
The Taliban continue to gain ground despite the central government in Kabul, which will weaken as the last US troops leave the country in September.
Experts have warned that a successful troop withdrawal hinged on a solid peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
President Joe Biden (pictured April 14) announced earlier this month his plan to withdraw the 2,500 remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan on September 11.
Biden’s move appeared to ignore dates set by the Taliban and the Afghan government in their Doha deal in February last year (pictured: US soldiers in Deh Afghan in 2006)
But months of negotiations, launched in Doha, Qatar, in September, have failed to produce tangible results, and violence in Afghanistan has escalated as talks have come to a halt.
Relations within the Afghan government have also made negotiations a slow process as President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the government representative for the peace talks, continue to bicker over politics.
An annual threat assessment by the US director of national intelligence, released last month, said the chances of a peace deal in the next 12 months “remain low.”
He said that “the Taliban are likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will find it difficult to keep the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws its support.”
After its withdrawal, the United States aims to rely on the Afghan military and police force, which it has developed with billions of dollars in funding, to maintain security, although the peace talks are struggling and the insurgency resists.
One of the main reasons for a coordinated withdrawal is the fact that NATO is relying on US airlift and shipping capabilities to bring valuable materiel out of landlocked Afghanistan.
NATO also wants to prevent any material from falling into the hands of militants, as happened after the US withdrawal from Iraq.