US-backed efforts to retake Kunduz | News | DW | 29.09.2015
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US-backed efforts to retake Kunduz

The Afghan government has launched a counter-offensive against the Taliban in the northern Afghan city. In spite of help from US airstrikes, the insurgents are standing firm.

Afghan security forces on Tuesday continued their attempts to retake parts of the city back from the Taliban fighters who had launched a stunning attack the previous day, capturing the city and forcing the military to retrench.

US warplanes targeted various Taliban positions early Tuesday, but Afghan soldiers were unable to make much progress thanks to roadblocks set up by the Taliban.

One NATO official, speaking to the AP on the condition of anonymity, said air strikes would not likely continue out of fear of harming civilians still living in the city.

That same day, White House spokesman Josh Earnest spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One. He reaffirmed the US' commitment to the Afghan people, and described the situation in Kunduz as "fluid."

'Heavy casualties'

Earlier on Tuesday, President Ashraf Ghani announced on national television the counter-offensive had dealt a significant blow to the Taliban.

"The enemy has sustained heavy casualties," he said.

Nonetheless, the Taliban's assault on Kunduz is a significant setback for both Ghani and his NATO-trained security forces.

In an interview with news agency AFP, one Taliban leader said the insurgents had won a major victory with the capture of Kunduz.

"In the long run, we may not be able to retain control but this victory will dispel the Afghan government's belief that we are strong only in areas bordering Pakistan," the commander said.

blc/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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