US airstrikes back Afghan push to retake city from Taliban

Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the coalition, said the troops were sent to Kunduz to “train, advise and assist” Afghan forces.


The Afghan government lost control of Kunduz on Monday, the first time the Taliban have taken over a provincial capital since 2001.

Mohammad Bashir told NBC News that one neighbor – a government employee – had been beaten and taken away by the Taliban overnight.

USA planes struck Taliban targets near the city’s airport, driving the militants back.

One of the air strikes was carried out in an effort to protect coalition forces after Taliban fighters had stolen a tank and were headed towards the airfield, an unnamed USA military official said.

On the other hand, the capture of Kunduz is a major victory for the Taliban, a group that might have been forgotten in the West because of competition elsewhere from organizations such as the Islamic State that might espouse a similar brand of Islam, but are even more brutal in their tactics, and even more successful in their military achievements.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Tuesday condemned the Taliban’s torching of a women-run radio and TV station in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz shortly after overrunning it.

The Taliban’s occupation – now in its third day – raises troubling questions about the capabilities of Afghan forces as they battle the militants largely on their own after NATO’s combat mission ended last December.

More than 100 civilians are reported to have died in the fighting and at least 6,000 residents have fled, says the United Nations.

President Ashraf Ghani, who completed his first year in office on Tuesday, said in a televised address that “progress” was being made recapturing Kunduz, but security forces had been hampered by the Taliban using civilians as human shields.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ghani said that reinforcements, including a national army battalion, a number of special forces, and commando personnel, have arrived in Kunduz province and “are prepared to give any sacrifice to frustrate the attempts of the enemies of the people of Afghanistan who want to disrupt security on orders of others”.

“The forces are fighting their way in to make it to Kunduz”, he said.

However, the morale of Afghan troops was flagging after two days of continuous fighting there, a district official said.

“The reports of extrajudicial executions, including of healthcare workers, abductions, denial of medical care and restrictions on movement out of the city are particularly disturbing”, UNAMA chief Nicholas Haysom said.


Amid the mayhem, Afghan lawmakers called on President Ghani to resign yesterday over his government’s “shameful” handling of the battle for Kunduz. Still, according to BBC a Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. strongly believes that the Afghan military will manage to retake control of the city. If the insurgents succeed in maintaining control, they are likely to cause severe disruption to supplies coming over the Friendship Bridge from Tajikistan – a critical entry point for cargo into the country and linchpin of Afghanistan’s economy.

Major General Todd Semonite Comanding General of Combined Security Transition Command- Afghanistan talks during an investment meeting on Afghanistan's military airfields on Wednesday Sept. 30 2015 in Dubai United Arab Emirates. Afghan and U.S. offic