Afghan forces lead Lashkargah battle: official
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Local officials on Saturday said ground and air operations have been launched in areas around the capital of southern Helmand province.
They claimed the insurgents suffered heavy casualties as a result of the operations.
Helmand Governor Hayatullah Hayat during a press conference here rejected rumours that the American forces were leading the operation in the province.
Flanked by 215 Maiwand Military Corps commander Brig. Gen. Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, the governor said the Afghan security forces had complete coordination and they were in the lead of the operation.
Brig. Gen. Ahmadzai said during the past three days of the air and ground offensive, 130 Taliban militants had been killed and scores of others wounded.
He said besides Lashkargah, clearing operations would be launched soon in other parts of the province.
The corps commander said Afghan forces had suffered casualties in areas near Lashkargah but not as much as reported by some media outlets. However, he did not provide exact figures for the casualties among security forces.
The governor said reinforcements from the special security forces had been deployed to defences around the provincial capital and the insurgents were being defeated.
Hayat said the Afghan forces were fully capable of defending Lashkargah and its adjacent areas. He said the American forces conducted airstrikes when required.
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hakim Angar, the 505 Bost zone police commander, said the period of Taliban’s attacks had ended, but security forces would continue their operations against the rebels.
He said the Taliban despite many efforts were unable to enter Lashkargah and suffered heavy casualties and were beaten back in many areas.
A resident of Lashkargah, Haji Mirza, said a fierce clash took place this morning in the city’s second police district and a separate clash was ongoing in Bolan area in the limits of the third police district.
However, he said the intensity of the conflict had subsided compared to previous days.
On the other hand, a resident of Sangin district, who declined to be named, said a large number of militants had arrived in Sangin district from Lashkargah, but he had no idea behind the move.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said the fighters were locked in clashes with security forces in areas near Lashkargah. He rejected the fighters had been beaten back in some areas.
Lashkargah has been divided into four security zones. The Taliban have been in control of the fourth security zone over the past one year.
Clashes in the second and third security zones are underway and the first zone is with the government.
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