Fighting in West Afghanistan as Taliban Attempts to Capture City

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Taliban insurgents launched attacks from multiple directions on the capital of Farah province in western Afghanistan near the border with Iran early Tuesday, killing and wounding "dozens" of security forces, a local official said.

The NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul said U.S. A-10 attack aircraft were also supporting Afghan forces and there had been at least one drone strike, while Afghan air force A-29s and Mi-17 helicopters had conducted multiple attacks.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the Afghan air force was also taking part in the battle.

Salangi said residents had begun clearing the city, including removing the bodies of nearly 40 Taliban fighters.

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.

Mr. Khan, the Farah resident, said that the insurgents mostly left homes and businesses alone, but that they did burn several cafes that served alcohol, leaving notes warning their owners against doing so.

"The independent media is a cornerstone of democracy", Jim Mattis said, adding that the United States was "committed to defeating" the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack.

"There is no danger of Farah city collapsing into the hands of Taliban", he said.

During this time, Kohistan district in Badakhshan province, Belchiragh district in Faryab province and Tala Wa Barfak district in Baghlan province have fallen to the Taliban.

The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year. He said Afghan forces established additional checkpoints to provide security.

Afghan officials confirmed that a district police chief in Farah died of his wounds on Tuesday, but they denied claims that the deputy provincial police chief had also died, saying he was critically wounded.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said in a statement on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that A-10 close support fighter jets were circling Farah, which it said remains under government control.

There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it, a project with which the Taliban have pledged to cooperate.

The targeting of Farah, coinciding with gains by the Taliban since the launch of a spring offensive less than three weeks ago, forced Afganistan's President, Ashraf Ghani, to call an urgent security meeting with senior defense officials on Tuesday.

"The Afghan National Defense and Security forces supported by US forces in Afghanistan air power are on the offensive against the Taliban", he added.

"Taliban has entered our city with a full might. they are equipped with heavy arms and night vision", said Dadullah Qane, a provincial council member of Farah.