Taliban forces launched a coordinated attack on the provincial city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, south of the capital Kabul, in the early hours of Friday, according to the government and the Taliban.
Ghazni security forces had managed to drive out most of the Taliban forces from the city center, Noori said.
In a tweet, US Forces Afghanistan called the attack a “failed attempt to seize terrain,” saying that Afghan forces were able to maintain control of government buildings. American military assets were involved in the city’s defense, the tweet said.
“US Forces responded with close-air support this morning in #Ghazni. Afghan forces held their ground and maintain control of all (government) centers. Another failed attempt by Taliban to seize terrain, while creating strategically inconsequential headlines,” it read.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement to the media that the Taliban entered Ghazni city around 1 a.m. local time (4.30 p.m. Thursday ET) and captured a number of strategic sites within the city.
The statement adds that hundreds of fighters, equipped with heavy and light weapons attacked the city from different directions.
Important institutions and a number of security checkpoints were taken over, the statement reads, and the battle is continuing in an effort to take more. More than 140 Afghan soldiers were killed, according to the statement.
Ongoing violence
The assault is the latest insurgent attack in the country since the Afghan government unilaterally called off a ceasefire that it had in place for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Taliban, along with other militant groups such as ISIS, routinely attack military and civilian targets in the country.
At least seven people were killed and more than 15 were wounded in Kabul in a suicide attack at a ministry in early June, and a further 14 people were killed and 60 injured in a suicide bomb attack near Hamid Karzai International Airport in late July. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.
The ongoing violence comes amid the release of a UN report stating the number of Afghan civilians killed in the first six months of this year has reached a record high.
Almost 1,700 civilians were killed from January 1 to June 30, a total higher than any comparable time over the last 10 years, according to the UN.
Late last month, American diplomats met face-to-face with Taliban representatives in Qatar to discuss laying the groundwork for peace talks, according to The Wall Street Journal.
US diplomats met with Taliban representatives in Qatar without Afghan government officials present, the New York Times said, citing two senior Taliban officials.
The State Department did not confirm or deny the talks, which would be a reversal of a longstanding policy and strategy toward the Taliban in Afghanistan.
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