Security forces in Afghanistan have begun an offensive to retake the key northern city of Kunduz, which the Taliban seized control of on Monday, government officials said Tuesday afternoon.
The Afghan army push, attempting to counter the Islamic militant organization’s biggest victory since it was ousted from the country’s government in 2001, was reported by Agence France-Presse.
The army was also reportedly aided by air strikes carried out by the U.S., according to NATO.
“Yes, the enemy is in the city and they have taken over the prison and other buildings,” Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, told AFP a day earlier, “but reinforcements are being deployed and the city will be taken back.”
The NATO-trained Afghan army was forced to retreat to an airport on the outskirts of Kunduz after the Taliban takeover, which succeeded with a sudden advance after a siege of the provincial capital that had lasted for months.
The New York Times quoted the Taliban leadership as saying that the militant group “has no intention” of carrying out mass executions or looting the city, but videos showed rebels setting fire to government buildings and driving around in police vehicles.
The setback to the Afghan government comes amid a draw-down of U.S. troops from the country, with around 10,000 American soldiers still on the ground training their local counterparts.
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