KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A provincial official says Afghan forces are still

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Syed Ibrar Hussain on Thursday said that the second round of peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban would begin soon and Islamabad was ready to cooperate with the process. Wounded forces were ferried out.

Government forces have been trying to recapture the area from the Taliban, who say they control the district.

Among the Taliban killed in the fighting was Mullah Nasir, a confidante of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the BBC News reports.

“US forces conducted two strikes in Sangin”, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman said in a brief statement.

The foreign presence transitioned to a non-combat Resolute Support Mission, with almost 13,000 foreign training and advice personnel deployed in the country this year.

President Ghani further added that the policy of the Afghan government is clear and reiterated his last year’s remarks, saying that Afghanistan is engaged in an undeclared war with Pakistan during the past 14 years.

Underscoring the grim security situation, a Taliban suicide bomber on Monday killed six USA soldiers near Kabul, in one of the deadliest attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan this year. The security forces remain plagued by poor logistics and unknown numbers of “ghost soldiers” – troops who exist only on paper so military officers can collect their salaries, Ruttig said.

Sangin is an important prize for the Taliban.

“It was significant because of the routes it controlled and it was a very significant part of the resourcing of the political economy of Helmand, because it is a major center of drugs processing and drugs shipping”, said Gordon.

“A Taliban takeover of Helmand would be a huge blow to (U.S. and British) efforts and their egos”, said Orzala Ashraf Nemat, a Kabul-based academic.

“This is probably the worst of the scenarios that the British had in 2013 and 2014”.

Reinforcements were rushed to the region, the acting Defense Minister Masoom Stanekzai told reporters on Wednesday, after the province’s deputy governor, Mohammad Jan Rasulyar, used his Facebook account to plead for help from central authorities.

He warned that all of Helmand could fall to the Taliban if the President didn’t take action. Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, claimed on Wednesday: “The Sangin district centres, its police headquarters, and other establishments were under continued attacks of the mujahideen and today… with God’s grace the district was fully captured by the mujahideen”.

However government officials have denied the claim and said they have pushed back the insurgents.

“The military planes have dropped food and supplies to the Afghan forces on ground”.

Afghans will have to put their house in order: Nabeel Munir


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