Government Forces, Taliban Battling In Remote Afghan Provincial Capital

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The Taleban claimed to have captured the capital of the western province of Farah on Tuesday (May 15), while government officials and their U.S. military backers vowed that the authorities would quickly oust insurgents from the city, the first to be overrun by the militants in two years.

Defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish said at least 10 insurgents and two Afghan security force members had been killed so far.

"Security checkpoints around the city have collapsed in the hands of the Taliban, causing high casualties among security forces", he said. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city.

According to reports, at least 2000 Taliban militants attacked Farah province on Tuesday morning, in order to claim it.

The NATO RS mission was established in 2015 with non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan's security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.

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Farah province, a remote and sparsely populated area, has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds of police and soldiers killed and severe losses inflicted even on elite special forces units. It borders Helmand Province, where the militants control several districts.

Inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.

A senior Afghan police official, reached by telephone inside Farah city, described the government's situation as "out of control" and predicted the insurgents would renew their offensive under cover of dark, when air support was less effective against them.

There were no detailed casualty assessments but a Resolute Support spokesman said dozens of Taliban fighters had been killed and there had also been an unspecified number of casualties on the government side. "This area is in government control, and the claims in this regard are untrue", he said.

"NDS forces in their headquarters are engaged in heavy clashes with the Taliban".

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Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.

The Taliban issued a statement warning residents to remain inside their homes and called on people to "stay calm".

The Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture from the government. There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it.

Farah, which borders Iran, has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years. Kunduz was subsequently retaken by the government both times.

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