Taliban Assault on Ghazni: U.S. Responded with Airstrikes that kills 200 Taliban

An Apache helicopter Public Domain

On Aug. 10, more than 1,000 Taliban fighters stormed the Ghazni city in a predawn assault. Afghan government forces lost more than 200 officers and soldiers in fighting over the past three days as Taliban insurgents launched sustained attacks on four different fronts.

About 1,000 Afghan troops were sent as reinforcements Monday and helped “to prevent the collapse of Ghazni city to the enemy,” but fighting was ongoing, Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami told reporters in Kabul.

U.S. military advisers were sent to Ghazni to assist Afghan forces, and U.S. warplanes launched airstrikes that killed 200+ suspected insurgents since Friday, according to the U.S.-led NATO coalition. Afghan officials said a total of nearly 200 Taliban had been killed in the fighting.

Details of U.S. airstrikes

According to the coalition forces officials in Afghanistan, more than 220 militants were killed in the airstrikes conducted by the US forces during the Taliban attack on Ghazni city.

Resolute Support spokesman Army Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell in a statement has said “From a U.S. Forces-Afghanistan perspective, U.S. airpower has killed more than 220 Taliban since August 10.”

According to O’Donnell, the U.S. conducted an initial strike on Friday, and conducted five strikes on Saturday, 16 strikes on Sunday, and ten on Monday.

Mohammad Arif Shahjahan, an MP from Ghazni, told CNN Monday Taliban fighters had taken control of key buildings, including the police headquarters and some government offices in Ghazni.

CNN reported that Taliban militants stormed the strategically important city in an attempt to establish a base within easy access of the capital Kabul to the north, and roads to western and some southern provinces.

The US Armed Forces rendered serious support and U.S. Air Force fighters and Army helicopter gunships have attacked and killed more than 220 Taliban forces in Ghazni over the past several days after militants launched a massive attack on the Afghan city less than 100 miles from Kabul.

Military.com noted that AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Combat Aviation Brigade provided close-air support for Afghan forces on Friday, Sunday and Monday, he said, adding that Brig. Gen. Richard Johnson, deputy commander of the 101st and commander of Task Force South East, advised Afghan leaders in an operational command-and-control center.

Details of Taliban Assault

Afghan government forces lost more than 200 officers and soldiers in fighting over the past three days as Taliban insurgents launched sustained attacks on four different fronts.

The hardest-hit area was the southeastern city of Ghazni, where more than 100 police officers and soldiers had been killed by Sunday, a hospital official said, and the insurgents appeared to be in control of most of the strategic city aside from a few important government facilities.

Ninety miles west, in Ghazni Province, the Taliban seized control of the Ajristan District. The elite army commando unit that had been defending the district disappeared for two days, and their superiors were uncertain of their fate. When they found out on Sunday, estimates of the dead ranged from 40 to 100. Twenty-two survivors were carried to safety on donkeys by rescuers who found them lost in the mountains.

In Faryab Province, 250 miles to the northwest, an isolated Afghan National Army base of 100 soldiers lost more than half of its men in a Taliban assault that ended early Sunday morning. The defenders said they did not expect to last another night.

And 275 miles east of the Faryab base, in northern Baghlan Province, at a base at Jangal Bagh on the strategic highway between Pul-i-Kumri and Kunduz, insurgents killed seven policemen and nine soldiers and captured three other soldiers on Saturday.

With the tempo of the Afghan conflict steadily increasing, it was a bad few days for the Afghan government. The fighting has demonstrated that the insurgents have a capacity for carrying out ambitious operations on multiple fronts, while the government has struggled to respond on a single front in Ghazni.

Baz Mohammad Hemat, the director of the Ghazni Hospital, said by telephone that 113 bodies had been taken to the hospital, along with 142 people who had been wounded, most of them in uniform.

“We’re running out of hospital rooms; we are using corridors and available space everywhere,” Mr. Hemat said. “Fighting is quite close to the hospital. The situation is really bad here. We’re receiving more and more wounded and dead every hour.”

The death toll appeared sure to rise, with numerous reports of bodies left unrecovered around the city. The fall of Ghazni, if it happens, would be the Taliban’s most important victory yet, as the city is on the main north-south highway, and its capture would effectively cut off the capital, Kabul, and the north from the insurgents’ Pashtun homeland in the south.

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