After Intense Fighting, The Taliban Capture Much of the City of Ghazni Near Afghan Capital
Despite their recent willingness to enter into negotiations with the United States regarding the future of Afghanistan, the Taliban have continued to press forward on the ground to demonstrate that they can strike anywhere to threaten President Ashraf Ghani's government. The Taliban control between one-quarter to about a third of the country, but US forces have prevented them from capturing and holding major urban centers. However, even President Trump's "troop surge" has done little to reduce their control in rural areas and they have shown their ability to challenge government control of some strategically important Afghan cities.
In May, the Taliban attacked the western city of Farah. But after several days of intense fighting, Afghan commandos, backed by U.S. air strikes, drove them from the city. Then, 4 days ago they attacked Ghazni, near the capital of Kabul and the fighting there continues.
BBC: "More than 100 government soldiers and police have been killed since the Taliban stormed Ghazni from four sides early on Friday.
The city lies on the key highway between Kabul and Kandahar.
Control of it would effectively allow the Taliban to cut off southern Afghanistan from Kabul, the capital. The success of the militants' assault has come as a blow to the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which has now deployed an extra 1,000 troops.
The government and its Nato allies insist they are in control of Ghazni but reports suggest Taliban fighters continue to roam the streets and still control many government buildings. Phone communications are down, making it difficult to verify information coming out of the city."
Afghan security forces backed by US air power will eventually prevail in Ghazni, but the Taliban's offensive demonstrates again that a negotiated settlement is the only way to end the conflict. A military victory will not be possible without a much larger introduction of US forces and that's unlikely after 17 years of war.
Photo credit: DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro