US, Afghanistan Launch Airstrikes in Taliban Infested Farah

Heavy clashes in W. Afghanistan city as major Taliban offensive kicks off

Taliban fighters with heavy weapons and night-vision equipment fought their way close to the center of the western city of Farah on Tuesday, as Afghan government forces backed by United States air strikes battled to keep control, officials and residents said.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the Afghan air force was also taking part in the battle.

"The Taliban captured several security checkpoints inside and around the city".

Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the defence ministry in Kabul said they have ordered security forces from neighbouring provinces to travel to Farah to protect civilians and government buildings.

The NATO RS mission was established in 2015 with non-combat mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), who assumed nationwide responsibility for Afghanistan's security following the conclusion of the previous NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.

The Taliban said that two more areas had fallen to their fighters: Jaghatu district in Ghazni Province in the country's southeast, and Dara-e Bom in Badghis Province in the northwest, according to a WhatsApp statement from the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.

Farah, Ghor, Baghlan, Nangarhar and Zabul are among 10 provinces that have witnessed ongoing heavy clashes between security forces and Taliban in recent days and the continuation of the clashes have raised concerns among the people, MPs and politicians.

Taliban fighters stand guard as senior leader of a breakaway faction of the Taliban Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, not pictured, delivers a speech to his fighters, in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.

Inside the city residents reported clashes were continuing.

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"An intense battle is going on in the city", he said without providing additional details.

Bakhtawer said casualties were high among security forces, but could not provide a precise number.

Fighters are targeting journalists in Afghanistan because they are weakened and want more news coverage in order to undermine the country's electoral process ahead of an expected vote in October, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has said.

"US Air Force A-10s are over Farah city, which remains under government control".

"NDS forces in their headquarters are engaged in heavy clashes with the Taliban".

The insurgents in a statement warned residents to remain in their homes and "stay calm".

Farah is a poppy-growing province in a hard to reach part of Afghanistan.

The assault comes as the Taliban are stepping up their spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.

The insurgents have tried several times to take provincial capitals in recent years, including Kunduz and Lashkar Gah, with the Afghan army deploying significant numbers of troops to hold those cities and push the militants out.

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