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Afghan fighting leaves scores of Taliban fighters dead: Ministry

An Afghan soldier stationed at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kabul.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban has left more than 100 insurgents dead in the past 24 hours, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, as the U.S. military pressed on with its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Taliban and government forces clashed across several provinces, including in the former insurgent bastion of Kandahar where the U.S. military carried out a “precision strike” on Saturday as it formally began the final troop pullout.

Another 52 Taliban fighters were wounded in the clashes, the ministry said in a statement, without giving details of any casualties suffered by government forces.

The Taliban did not offer any comment on the fighting, but both sides are known to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the other.

Fighting on the ground has continued unabated in recent months as peace efforts aimed at ending the 20-year conflict have faltered.

The U.S. military formally began withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from the violence-wracked country on Saturday, as ordered by President Joe Biden last month.

U.S. officials on the ground say the withdrawal commenced a few days before May 1 — the deadline agreed between Washington and the Taliban last year to complete the pullout.

The pullout of all U.S. forces will now be completed by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as announced by President Biden.

The US military said on Saturday it carried out a “precision strike” after an airfield in Kandahar where it has a base “received ineffective indirect fire” that caused no damage.

The attack on the base, which has not been claimed by any group, came as the Taliban warned that the US military had violated the accord signed last year by not finishing the troop withdrawal by May 1.

“This in principle opens the way for our mujahideen to take appropriate action against the invading forces,” Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesman, told AFP adding that the group was awaiting orders from its leaders for its future course of action.

Since the U.S. withdrawal deal was struck the Taliban have not directly engaged foreign troops, but have mercilessly attacked government forces in the countryside and waged a terror campaign in urban areas.

Afghan officials said all foreign troops were being taken to Bagram, the biggest American base in Afghanistan, and from there they would leave to their respective countries.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 2:01:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/afghan-fighting-leaves-scores-of-taliban-fighters-dead-ministry/article34466361.ece

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