Taliban militants have launched a major offensive on Qala-e Naw on their first attempt to seize a major city since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Iran has suddenly hosted peace talks. Afghan officials say the Taliban attacked Qala –e-Naw, the capital of western Badghis province, on Wednesday Provincial Governor Hussamuddin Shams said, “They entered some parts of the city but after a while the enemy faced stiff resistance.”
Reuters reports that afghan special forces retaliated with air strikes on Taliban attackers and forced them to return.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman has vowed to drive out the militants. The Taliban have not yet made a public statement on the battle for Qala –e- Naw. The afghan Defense Ministry claimed that the militants had suffered heavy casualties, while dozens of pro-government army personnel had also been killed.
Neighboring Iran was hosting talks between Taliban ambassadors and Kabul government officials on Wednesday at a time when war was raging in Afghanistan. Former Afghan vice President Younis Qanuni was also present at the talks.
According to Iranian State media, Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif called on the Taliban and government representatives to “ make tough decisions today for the future of their country.” Zarif also criticized the US “failure “ in Afghanistan.
Last week , Us and NATO forces evacuated the Bagram military base near Kabul. The airbase served as a command center for anti-Taliban activities. With the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, air support to Afghan government forces has been greatly reduced. The United States has said in a statement that it has completed about 90 percent of its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Most NATO troops have also returned to their home countries.
Twenty years ago, in 2002 , the United States launched a military operation in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government. The United States has accused the Taliban of backing al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks in New York.
According to the AP news agency, Tehran fears that in the event of chaos and civil war in Afghanistan, a large number of refugees may turn to Iran for refuge. There are already thousands of Afghan refugees in Iran.
If the Taliban take control of Qala –e – Naw, it will be of great strategic importance because it will put the Afghan forces under psychological pressure.’’
Afghan Defense Ministry officials, however, have vowed to protect major cities, major highways and border towns from Taliban attacks.