Taliban Advancing northern Afghan city

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by SajeevJino, Jun 21, 2015.

  1. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Inside a Cage
    Alarm as Taliban advance on key northern Afghan city


    Taliban insurgents advancing on the capital of a northern Afghan province have captured a key adjoining district, officials said Sunday, sparking renewed alarm among residents who fear the fall of the besieged city.

    The Taliban launched their annual summer offensive in late April with a brazen assault in Kunduz province, coming close to overrunning the provincial capital and sending civilian casualties soaring in outlying districts.

    The capture of the worst-affected Chardarah district—at the edge of Kunduz city—on Saturday reignited concerns over its potential fall as insurgents escalate their annual summer offensive.

    “The district has fallen to Taliban after hours of fierce fighting. Twelve Afghan forces have lost their lives and 17 have been wounded,” Chardarah district chief Mohammad Yousuf Ayubi told AFP.

    The militants are now as close as three kilometres to Kunduz city, increasingly hemmed in by the insurgency, with sporadic fighting still ongoing between the Taliban and pro-government forces.

    The fall of a provincial capital would be a major setback for the Afghan government, which has been fighting a resilient Taliban insurgency since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

    Deputy Afghan army chief General Murad Ali Murad said at least 70 security forces were surrounded by Taliban insurgents in Chardarah.

    “We are going to start a military operation to retake the district on Sunday evening,” he told AFP.

    Abdul Sabor Nasrati, the police chief of the province on the border with Tajikistan, said the government was rushing reinforcements to Chardarah.

    Civilians are bearing the brunt of a large-scale insurgent offensive in Kunduz, the keystone of the Taliban’s summer fighting season which is expected to be the bloodiest in a decade.

    The province is facing a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of families trapped in a vortex of violence as militancy spreads across the north, beyond traditional Taliban hotbeds in the south and east.

    Fierce battles between insurgents and government forces in Chardarah late Saturday sent terrified residents fleeing towards Kunduz city, carrying babies, livestock and household possessions.

    “The Taliban attacked our village and both sides sprayed bullets in all directions,” said 60-year-old Bibi Gul, clutching an infant.

    “The Taliban are fighting during the fasting month of Ramadan. They are not Muslims,” she told AFP.

    The militants recently rebuffed requests from senior Afghan clerics to halt attacks during Ramadan despite surging civilian casualties.

    The streets of Kunduz city were deserted, with shops closed and local administration officials deserting government buildings, residents said, as fears of a Taliban takeover grew.

    This year’s Taliban offensive marks the first fighting season in which Afghan forces are battling the insurgents without the full support of US-led foreign combat troops.

    NATO’s combat mission formally ended in December but a small follow-up foreign force has stayed on to train and support local security personnel.

  3. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

    Jun 17, 2009
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    Most of the times Taliban are forced to retreat after their advances. I think ANA is readying its counter attack with the help of coalition forces.

    Air support along with ground offensive have proved a success in the past against Taliban.
  4. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Inside a Cage
    Taliban capture another Afghan district

    Dashti Archi

    The Taliban captured a second district in the northern Kunduz province early Monday after heavy fighting with local security forces.

    Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, head of the provincial council, said the insurgents attacked the district of Dashti Archi from four sides, setting off heavy fighting before seizing full control of the area. He said local forces suffered casualties but did not have a precise count.

    He said around 150,000 residents of the district were unable to leave.

    The Taliban confirmed that they had captured the district, as well as ammunition and four tanks, in an emailed statement.

    The Taliban seized control of the Chardara district in Kunduz on Sunday. The insurgents attacked the provincial capital, also called Kunduz, in a surprise attack in April and nearly captured the city before Afghan forces pushed them back.

  5. Alien

    Alien Regular Member

    May 20, 2015
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    Who is supplying arms and ammunition's to Taliban? Isn't that an open secret?

    Amreecan's/Afghani's should first control the (in)visible hand that is supporting Taliban and Taliban will eventually vanish.
  6. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Long walk Elite Member

    Feb 21, 2012
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    Inside a Cage
    Afghan troops retake key district near Kunduz city

    The Afghan military said Tuesday it was carrying out mopping-up operations after recapturing a strategically important district center lost to Taliban insurgents over the weekend.

    A government victory in Char Dara would alleviate Taliban pressure on the nearby city of Kunduz, which the guerrillas appeared to be trying to encircle. On Monday, they overran another district located northwest of the city of about 1 million inhabitants. The center of Dasht-e-Archi remains in Taliban hands.

    A Defense Ministry statement said the Afghan air force provided support for the counterattack and that troops were combing through Char Dara on Tuesday to ensure no guerrilla fighters were still hiding there.

    A local government official said 58 enemy fighters were killed during the operation. Three soldiers died and six were injured, said the official, who asked not to be named since he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

    But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that the guerrillas had been ejected from Char Dara, describing the ministry statement as “propaganda.”

    The Taliban have demonstrated an ability to quickly mass hundreds of fighters for attacks on isolated or lightly defended districts since they launched their summer offensive in April — the first fighting season since most U.S. and NATO forces pulled out after the end of the combat mission at the end of 2014.

    But the lightly armed insurgents have been unable to resist counteroffensives by government reinforcements, which have used armored vehicles, artillery and air strikes to quickly retake those regions.

  7. Zebra

    Zebra Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 18, 2011
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  8. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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    Afghanistan's Underbelly: The Exposed North

    MAZAR-E SHARIF, Afghanistan -- The roar of gunfire has stopped, and the bullet-riddled homes have been rebuilt, but the horrors of civil war are seared into the memories of residents here.

    "You can't see signs of the devastation anymore," says Abdul Hamid, who runs a grocery store in central Mazar-e Sharif. "But everyone here remembers those dark days."

    The capital of Afghanistan's northern Balkh Province has undergone a huge transformation since then, and today is arguably the country's most modern and liberal city. Music blares from cafes and karaoke bars that line the streets. Women fill the parks and chatter over the muezzin's call for prayers that emanate from the city's grand mosque.

    But it was not so long ago that Mazar-e Sharif was the setting for deadly street fighting between forces commanded by Atta Mohammad Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum.

    During a devastating civil war from 1992-96, Dostum and Noor were locked in a pitched battle for control of the north -- with Mazar-e Sharif a highly strategic prize. After the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the two warlords went at it again until a power-sharing agreement three years later stopped the fighting. Under the deal, Noor was given control of Balkh Province, while Dostum was able to retain his significant influence in surrounding provinces.

    Considering the former warlords' adversarial history, residents of Mazar-e Sharif can be excused for reacting with alarm upon hearing that northern Afghanistan's security largely depends on a Noor-Dostum alliance.

    Risky Strategy

    Desperate to thwart a major Taliban offensive to take all of northern Afghanistan, Kabul has set on a strategy that hinges on the two powerful former warlords working together.

    In announcing their "coalition" in June, they spoke as politicians -- Dostum as first vice president of the country, Noor as the governor of Balkh Province. But their reputations as strongmen and the prospect that they could mobilize their old militias give cause for angst.

    They couldn't be farther apart, politically. Noor is an ethnic Tajik and former mujahedin commander in the Islamist Jamiat-e Islami political party. The ethnic-Uzbek Dostum is a communist-era general and former militia commander who leads the Junbish party. The two parties, both of which were backed by heavily armed forces, were deadly rivals as they vied for control of Kabul and the country's north after the collapse of the communist regime in the 1990s.

    Now Noor is an entrenched regional leader with a strong-arm reputation who can call on his former militia members for support if needed, while Dostum is a player in Kabul with a strong-arm reputation who has the backing of the president and Afghanistan's security forces.

    For his part, Noor gave assurances in an interview with RFE/RL on June 23 that he and Dostum had set aside their differences and intended to inflict a "powerful blow" to militants. But the strategy hatched in Kabul to address security in the increasingly unstable north is fraught with danger.

    This is because, if the alliance were to break down, the ensuing fallout could exacerbate deep ethnic and factional divisions, give rebirth to the warlords' old militias and possibly rekindle the civil strife seen in the 1990s.

    Iron-Fist Rule

    Noor has accumulated enormous power in Balkh, where he has ruled as governor for 12 years. He has his share of critics, who in hushed voices accuse him of monopolizing power and ruling like a dictator.

    But many Balkh residents support him for establishing law and order in the province, among the last oases of stability in the north. Some even affectionately call him the "Savior Of The North."

    "His monopoly on power is the price we have to pay for the security we have," says a resident of the capital who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Security is more important for us than food."

    "If anyone tries to remove him we will rise up," says Asadullah, a butcher. "We will start an uprising."

    "He has given us what we want above all else," says Hamidullah, an ethnic Uzbek shopkeeper. "The whole north would crumble if it wasn't for him."

    Upon taking office last year, President Ashraf Ghani made a concerted effort to sideline warlords that were seen as being too close to the presidential administration. Just months ago, Ghani was reportedly putting intense pressure on Noor to resign.

    But that was before the Taliban launched a spring offensive focusing on the northern provinces and the emergence of stark divisions in Kabul on how to deal with the threat.

    Realizing that Balkh was once again the key to the north, Kabul began to see Noor as indispensable to its northern security strategy.

    Tactical Allies

    The timing for a Noor-Dostum alliance couldn't be better.

    Noor has expressed a keen interest in being more involved with decisions made in Kabul. He has blamed the "weak" central government for the deteriorating security situation in the north and has blasted presidential nominees for defense posts.

    Making nice with Dostum both wipes Noor's slate clean in the eyes of Kabul and puts him in position to build influence in the Afghan capital.

    Dostum played a crucial part in Ghani’s election victory -- securing the bulk of the ethnic Uzbek and Turkmen electoral blocs. And on paper he is one of the most powerful members of the government. But in reality his role has been largely ceremonial and his star has fallen of late.

    He has complained about being marginalized by the president and has become frustrated by the indifference to his decades of fighting experience and leadership.

    An alliance with Noor gives Dostum, who hails from the northern Jowzjan Province, both a bigger role in Kabul and an opportunity to reestablish his former powerbase in northern Afghanistan.

    Both also possess the wherewithal to influence broad segment of the population up north -- Noor as head of the primarily Tajik Jamiat-e Islami party, and Dostum as leader of the Uzbek/Turkmen-dominated Junbish party.

    Recognizing the importance of getting the two groups on the same page, the government recently sent a delegation to Faryab Province to encourage civilians to unite against the Taliban and foreign militants on the offensive in the north.

    "The coward enemy adopts various plots to split our people under the pretext of the Junbish and Jamiat-e Islami parties, and to start war between the brother tribes," Mawalawi Asadullah Jamali, the head of the provincial peace council, said on June 15. "Now, as a lesson from bitter experiences, it is time for these groups to wake up."

    Rearming Militias

    Skeptics of the strategy question where Noor and Dostum will get their muscle.

    Both have said that under their new relationship they will jointly command local forces across the north, but there are fears that they will turn to militia fighters for help.

    In an interview with RFE/RL in June, Noor gave assurances that he had not and would not arm militias. But there is mounting evidence that it is taking place in his backyard.

    "The government has been supplying us with weapons," a commander of a newly formed militia in eastern Balkh tells RFE/RL on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. "We get a salary of 10,000 afghanis ($160) every month to defend our village."

    The commander said his fighters had received Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades from the provincial government.

    "The soldiers are scared to leave their posts," he says. "The provincial government is arming us and telling us it's our responsibility to protect ourselves."

    The commander also indicated that some of the newly formed militias in Balkh have been trained by the Interior Ministry and absorbed into the Afghan Local Police. But he says many militias are acting independently, raising the question of whether they can be controlled.

    Noor rejects all these claims as "baseless propaganda."

    Fearful Anticipation

    One Pashtun tribal leader in southern Balkh, who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity, said that during the day militias fight the Taliban but during the night they "prey on villagers."

    "In Balkh, there are three different kinds of Taliban: the militias who are the Taliban, the governor's Taliban, and [spiritual leader] Mullah Mohammad Omar's Taliban."

    The tribal elder said militiamen were exhorting taxes from them, burning their crops, making arbitrary arrests, and even killing and raping villagers.

    "The region is being flooded with weapons," says the tribal leader. "Nobody knows which are the soldiers, police, militias, or militants. Everybody is fighting and killing each other."

    The violence has forced thousands of people from Balkh and other provinces to flee to the relative safety of Mazar-e Sharif.

    But away from the provincial capital, in the far-flung districts and villages of Balkh, few dare to leave their houses.

    "We can't leave our homes because the Taliban are bombarding our villages," says a Pashtun tribal leader in Balkh's east -- where an unholy army of pro-government militias, independent armed groups, and the Afghan Army is already fighting the Taliban. "During the night, it's the turn of the militias. There's no respite."

    As another tribal elder sees it, all the ingredients are there for another civil war.

    "You can arm everyone and think everything will be fine," he says. "What happens when they kick the Taliban out? They will turn on themselves just like they have previously."

  9. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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    Afghans Driven By Taliban Offensive To Northern Haven

    MAZAR-E SHARIF, Afghanistan -- Homayra clings to the maimed body of her 8-year-old son. She gazes helplessly at the limp boy in her arms, contemplating the misery in which they find themselves.

    "He can't move, but I can't do anything," the 27-year-old widow laments at a makeshift refugee camp outside Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Afghanistan's northern Balkh Province.

    "I've spent all my money on medicine for him, but now I've run out," she adds in a parched voice, waving X-ray images of her paralyzed boy Omar from his infancy, when the family had access to medical care.

    Homayra and Omar are among the tens of thousands of war-scarred Afghans who have fled their homes in northern Afghanistan amid a fierce offensive by the fundamentalist Taliban, who remain at war with central authorities a full 13 years after the U.S.-led coalition chased them from power.

    Many, like Homayra, have sought refuge in Balkh Province, the last oasis of relative peace in the region.

    Soaring Numbers Of Refugees

    Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, powerful former warlord, has run Balkh with an iron fist for the past 12 years, making the province one of the most stable and prosperous in the country.

    Given its strategic location, Balkh's stability has also been a key focus of NATO forces.

    Large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remain unregistered with local authorities, but migration officials estimate the figure in Balkh to be as high as 20,000.

    More than 300 families in the past several months have made this dusty patch of land outside of Mazar-e Sharif their temporary home.

    Homayra and her family fled their home in Faryab Province, in the country's northwest near the border with Turkmenistan, one month ago. Her husband was killed by a stray bullet during fighting in her hometown between Taliban gunmen and Afghan government forces.

    "His father was killed haplessly," says Homayra, who is draped in a long white scarf. "A lot of people have been killed in our area. Many homes have been destroyed by the fighting."

    She lives in the displaced-persons camp with her mother-in-law, Faizia, a 60-year-old woman covered in a blue cloak.

    "My grandson and husband were killed by the Taliban," says Faizia, who is blind in one eye from a shrapnel wound. "We are homeless. We don't have shelter or food to eat. All we have are these tents we put up."

    Desperate Conditions

    The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and the Provincial Department of Repatriation and Refugees (DoRR) have begun distributing packages of humanitarian aid to several hundred families in Balkh.

    And the camp's residents say the provincial government has allocated land for their temporary shelter as well as provided sacks of wheat every few months.

    But many of the IDPs, who fled with little more than the clothes on their backs, complain that local authorities and international aid organizations should do more.

    The camp's residents must walk for an hour to collect water from a well in a nearby village. Some work in nearby kilns, making line after line of clay bricks from dusk to dawn. Others work on farms in the area, picking fruit in the scorching sun. Many, however, beg on the dusty streets of Mazar-e Sharif to eke out a living.

    Mohammad Asef, a bearded, middle-aged man, says he fled Sar-e Pol Province to the east two months ago, after a rocket landed on his house, instantly killing his wife and child.

    Unable to work because of his own wounds, Asef says he and the rest of the camp's inhabitants won't survive long without additional assistance.

    "We don't have water or electricity," Asef says. "The only shelter is these tents that you see. We want to build homes so we're not exposed to the elements."

    For many of the displaced Afghans, desperate living conditions are the price they have had to pay for life in the relative safety of Balkh. But the violence has followed some migrants to their adopted homes.

    "I'm so scared that I can't sleep. I fled because they would have killed me," says Mohammad Yusuf, a former soldier from Kunduz Province, one of the harder-hit provinces to the northeast. "[But] to seek revenge, the Taliban even come here."

    He cites an example freshly etched in his mind, of another former soldier from Kunduz whose family was gunned down in the makeshift camp by masked gunmen. "It was here that they killed his wife and two of his brothers this week," he says.

    Violence Spreading

    Taliban fighters conducted a major spring offensive in northern Afghanistan, which had been relatively stable compared with the explosive south and east of the country. But now, battles are raging across the region, with Afghan national forces struggling to fend off militants who have overrun districts and killed scores of government troops.

    Even Balkh has not been shielded from the soaring violence.

    In several districts, the Taliban is waging war with Afghan soldiers and pro-government militias, prompting residents to flee to Mazar-e Sharif and its surrounding areas.

    "So many of our people were killed and taken," says Agha Jan, an elderly farmer from Chimtal district who moved to the outskirts of Mazar-e Sharif three months ago. "We had to leave our area. Eighteen people were killed by the Taliban in our village alone."

    Jan says they were not only being targeted by militants, but were also being preyed upon by pro-government militias deployed to fight the Taliban in far-flung parts of Balkh.

    "During the day, the Taliban would beat us up and ransack our homes," he says. "During the night, it was the militias' turn."

    Afghan national authorities are struggling to wrest momentum from the Taliban and other armed antigovernment forces 13 years after an UN-backed plan was put in place to succeed the Taliban.

    Those "enemies of Afghanistan," in the words of Kabul authorities, continue their deadly strikes aimed at civilian and military targets, including a daylight attack on the parliament building that killed six people.

    The Afghan security and police forces are still undermanned, and their job was made even more pressing by the withdrawal of U.S. and other international combat forces by the end of last year.

    Abdul Hamid, a stocky shepherd from the Chahar Bolak district who's now in Balkh, left his family behind after he became a marked man by the Taliban.

    "I can't go back to my village," he says. "I still have family there, but it's too dangerous to go."

  10. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Apr 13, 2013
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  11. rockey 71

    rockey 71 Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 5, 2015
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    Traditionally Afghans take a break from fighting in winter and go back to families - only to return when the warmer hunting season begins. Mulla Omar never lost support in the rural areas. The old Northern Alliance of Dostum and Abdullah Abdullah are the only elements that were never subdued by the Taleban.

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