On August 11, the Taliban announced that it had launched a large-scale attack on the southeastern city of Ghazni as a part of its spring offensive codenamed “Operation al-Khandagh.”
Hours after the beginning of the attack, the Afghan group’s fighters managed to storm the city and captured large areas inside it including the headquarters of the Afghan National Police (ANP), the Bala Hissar fort, two military bases of the Afghan National Army (ANA) as well as 29 checkpoints.
During the second day of the attack, the Taliban expanded its control inside and around Ghazni capturing several military bases and posts of the ANA and the ANP and city’s main prison.
According to the Taliban news agency Voice of Jihad, Taliban fighters have killed more than 200 personnel of the ANA and the ANP in Ghazni so far. The Afghan group also destroyed more than 50 armored vehicles of the ANA and captured many others.
In an attempt to save the southeastern city, the ANA began sending reinforcement hours after the banging of the Taliban’s attack. However, one of the ANA’s convoys was ambushed by Taliban fighters in the district of Sayad Abad, 80km north of Ghazni, according to the Afghan Tolo TV.
The Voice of Jihad claimed that Taliban fighters destroyed 18 armored vehicles of the ANA and killed several Afghan soldiers during the ambush.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant colonel Martin O’Donnell, a Public Affairs Officer for the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, denied that the Taliban took over Ghazni and said that all the administrative buildings in the city are still under the control of government forces.
“The Afghan National Army strongly and swiftly reinforced Ghazni City after Afghan security thwarted Friday’s Taliban attack. The city was relatively quiet Friday evening and people were observed moving freely on the streets. That said, clearing operations are ongoing and sporadic clashes are occurring,” Lt. Col. O’Donnell said according to TOLO.
Lt. Col. O’Donnell also revealed that warplanes and bombers of the NATO are currently supporting the ANA and bombing the Taliban’s positions inside and around Ghazni.
“In addition to the initial strike, close-air support and B-1 show of presence on Friday, US forces conducted five strikes yesterday (Saturday) and 10 thus far today. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces continue to hold their ground and maintain control of all government centers,” said Lt. Col. O’Donnell.
Earlier this year, the ANA backed by NATO warplanes repelled a similar large-scale attack of the Taliban on the western city of Farah. This scenario may repeat itself in Ghazni, as the Afghan group appears to be unable to hold onto its gains inside and around the city.