Taliban fighters with heavy weapons and night-vision equipment fought their way close to the centre of the western city of Farah on Tuesday, as Afghan forces with US air support battled to force them back, officials and residents said.
Social media images showed bodies of government troops on the streets in one area, while video images released by the government showed helicopters firing on a hill outside the city.
"Heavy fighting is going on and Taliban are in the city but the police headquarters and NDS (the Afghan intelligence agency) have not fallen to them", he said.
Fared Bakhtawer, head of the Farah provincial council, said the insurgents overran several security checkpoints in the provincial capital of the same name and that heavy fighting was underway.
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Farah province has seen heavy fighting in recent months, with local officials and tribal elders requesting additional forces to support the overburdened army and police.
"Farah city remains under government control, and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, supported by U.S. Forces-Afghanistan airpower, are on the offensive against the Taliban", spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell said.
"Heavy fighting continues inside the city and aircraft have just started bombarding Taliban positions", local provincial council member Jamila Amini told AFP.
The NATO-led Resolute Support military forces issued a statement saying Farah city remained under government control and that air support, including U.S. Air Force A-10s, were assisting Afghan security forces. A total of 43 Taliban fighters were killed during the battles in three different districts, he added. He said Afghan forces established additional checkpoints to provide security.
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.
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It added Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) had already stated, the Afghan security forces brought their full capabilities, consisting of Army, Police, Commandos and Air Force, to bear on the situation. There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it.
In 2017, insurgents tried to overrun the capital three times, according to the Afghanistan Analysts Network.
Farah is home to about 50,000 people and would be the second city to fall to the Taliban since the city of Kunduz fell twice in 2015 and 2016.
He said the attack happened late Monday night in Puli Alim the capital of the province.
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