Hundreds of Taliban fighters began a massive offensive Tuesday in Logar province, about 47 miles from Kabul, reports said, citing local officials. Over the weekend, more than 700 fighters had attacked police checkpoints in the region.
Taliban fighters have reportedly switched tacks and become more aggressive as they attack the Afghan military to gain control of the region, according to Reuters, even as the U.S. prepares to reduce its presence in Afghanistan. The U.S. government had declared in May that it will withdraw most of its troops from the strife-ridden country by 2016, leaving behind only 10,000 troops.
“There are some 700 of them and they are fighting Afghan forces for territorial control and they have also brought with them makeshift mobile (health) clinics," Niaz Mohammad Amiri, the provincial governor of Logar, told Reuters, adding that the militants are armed with heavy machinery.
On Saturday, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior reportedly said, in a statement, that the Afghan national police and Afghan intelligence together had launched a 24-hour operation against the militant group and killed at least 18 Taliban militants, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.
Last month, the Pentagon had said that more than 40 percent of weapons provided by the U.S. to the Afghan army had gone missing and that the systems put in place to monitor the weapons were filled with “errors and discrepancies.”
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Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai had reportedly asked government forces not to use heavy machinery in an attempt to reduce casualties, Xinhua reported Tuesday.
"Banning troops to request air support from NATO-led forces and using heavy weapons during military operations would definitely undermine the morale of the troops and eventually enable Taliban to benefit," Fatima Aziz, a local parliamentarian, told a local news network, according to Xinhua.