Thursday, January 17, 2019
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Taliban abandons effort to capture Farah city

Security forces backed by US air support reassert control over western city, a day after fighters took control of it.

Afghan security forces and US air strikes have driven the Taliban out of the centre of Farah, a city in western Afghanistan, a day after the fighters fought their way in.

Clashes between the group, armed with heavy weapons, and Afghan security forces on Tuesday left at least 25 members of the forces and five civilians dead, according to Abdul Basir Salangi, governor of Farah province.

At least 300 Taliban fighters were also killed in the clashes, Salangi said.

The city was taken back by the security forces on Wednesday, who then conducted a clearing operation inside.

"Farah city remains under government control, and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, supported by US. Forces-Afghanistan airpower, are on the offensive against the Taliban," Lieutenant-Colonel Martin O'Donnell, a coalition spokesman, said.

Farah has seen months of heavy fighting, with hundreds of police and soldiers killed and severe losses inflicted even on elite Special Forces units.

The Taliban control or exercise influence in 13 percent of Afghanistan's 408 districts, according to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction or SIGAR, a US government's top watchdog on Afghanistan.

With the fighting under way on Tuesday, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, asked civilians to remain in their houses.

"Mujahideen have nothing to do with civilians, only military positions are the target," he said in a statement, referring to Taliban fighters.

The US has boosted its assistance to the government under a new strategy announced by President Donald Trump last year, sending thousands of additional troops and advisers and stepping up air strikes to support Afghan forces.

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