Elite Afghan Forces Suffer Horrific Casualties as Taliban Advance

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 24 Afghan commandos and 5 law enforcement officials have been killed after they have been surrounded by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday, in response to native and Afghan navy officers. It was a profound blow to the elite drive at a time when such troops typically serve as the one models retaining the insurgents from capturing extra territory.

The vicious battle passed off within the early morning hours in a key district of Faryab Province. The Taliban seized Dawlat Abad district roughly per week in the past — one in all dozens which have fallen since American and worldwide forces started withdrawing from the nation final month.

“When the Taliban came to Dawlat Abad, they surrounded the commandos and killed them in less than an hour,” mentioned Mohammad Hakim, a militia commander who escaped the district.

What occurred in Faryab is enjoying out in districts throughout the nation, at an alarming price. Tolo News, a nationwide media outlet within the nation, reported combating in 80 of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 districts within the nation Thursday.

On Thursday alone, the neighboring district of Shirin Tagab fell after Afghan forces there fought for days and ran out of ammunition, mentioned Sebghatullah Selab, the deputy head of the provincial council in Faryab. Mohammad Nader Sayedi, one other member of the provincial council, mentioned that a number of hundred safety forces both have been captured or surrendered and the Taliban seized greater than 100 autos and tons of of weapons.

In the nation’s south, the Taliban entered Gereshk, an vital city close to Helmand Province’s capital, regardless of concerted airstrikes. And in Zabul, tribal elders negotiated the withdrawal of Afghan troops from a base in Shinkay, a district that fell to the Taliban earlier this month.

The tapestry of presidency defeats and territorial loss has solely emboldened the Taliban and known as into query Afghanistan’s destiny as the United States nears the tip of its navy involvement within the nation after 20 years. U.S. and worldwide forces, slated to be in another country by Sept. 11, have accelerated their withdrawal and can probably depart subsequent month.

Now, with no assure of U.S. air support after worldwide forces pull out and with a shrinking variety of American plane overhead, Afghan commanders are being pressured to make more and more troublesome selections about which bases and outposts to carry or abandon, leaving the civilian inhabitants by the hands of the Taliban.

Wednesday’s battle got here after a commando drive of roughly 50 troops, intermixed with law enforcement officials and troopers, carried out an operation to retake Dawlat Abad district from the Taliban with little coordination with close by authorities forces, mentioned an Afghan navy official with data of the operation, who was not permitted to talk to the media, shortly routing a contingent of Taliban fighters there.

But a number of hours later, a a lot bigger Taliban drive attacked the elite drive from all sides, killing no less than 24 commandos and 5 law enforcement officials. Several troops are wounded and lacking, the navy official mentioned, and regardless of requires air help, no plane have been capable of reply in time.

Among the scattered lifeless was Maj. Sohrab Azimi, a well known and beloved officer whose job was directing airstrikes, one of many few benefits the Afghan safety forces maintain over the Taliban.

In the seemingly countless cycle of killing and dying in Afghanistan’s conflict, the dying of Major Azimi, 30, the son of a well known Afghan common, highlighted the brutal and private nature of this new chapter of the conflict.

Major Azimi “was the best,” one in all his fellow Afghan comrades noticed, who spent the hours after his good friend’s dying within the north directing airstrikes within the south to defend the district of Gereshk. “I can’t tolerate any more my friends’ deaths.”

Often the seemingly numerous variety of Afghan safety drive casualties unfold throughout the nation are faceless to many, particularly these ensconced in Afghanistan’s extra city and prosperous cities. Frequently they’re recruited from rural areas in the hunt for job and monetary safety then returned and buried after their deaths. More than 60,000 Afghan troops and law enforcement officials have been killed since 2001.

But Major Azimi was a human face to the navy for the nation’s higher echelons — himself a sophisticated officer who had obtained a part of his training within the United States.

For one other a part of the Afghan inhabitants within the countryside, although, Major Azimi’s command was the face of terror: the low whine of navy plane, armed with machine weapons, rockets and bombs, all tethered to his radio, able to destroying property, insurgents and generally, by chance, civilians.

The Afghan authorities’s air and commando forces are arguably the 2 pillars of the Afghan safety forces retaining the Taliban outdoors of main cities, leaving troopers like Major Azimi — a confluence of each — one in all their most valued targets.

But Afghan commando forces are being stretched to the breaking level, shuttled between sizzling spots and dropped in to push Taliban fighters out of vital areas. Their night time imaginative and prescient, camaraderie and coaching alongside a number of the West’s finest navy models means they’re properly matched in opposition to their rebel adversaries.

“We mourn. The Taliban celebrate. And it hurts too much,” mentioned Ferdous Samim, one of many main’s finest pals, his voice exhausted.

Fatima Faizi contributed reporting from Kabul, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar.

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