US airstrikes back Afghan push to retake Kunduz from Taliban

Published: Thursday 1st October 2015 by The News Editor

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Afghan troops backed by US airstrikes massed on the outskirts of a key city seized by the Taliban in the build-up to a campaign to drive out the insurgents.

Despite the overnight US bombing of Taliban positions, the militants extended their grip on Kunduz, forcing government forces to retreat from a strategic fortress hilltop and giving the insurgents a vantage point overlooking the city.

The airport remained the only pocket of resistance to the militant onslaught, which began with a co-ordinated attack on Monday that took the government, military and intelligence agencies by surprise.

At least three US airstrikes had targeted Taliban fighters near the city by early Wednesday. US Army spokesman, Colonel Brian Tribus, said US and Nato coalition advisers, including special forces, were also at the scene “in the Kunduz area, advising Afghan security forces”.

He denied reports they were fighting on the ground, stressing the forces were there in a non-combat, train-and-assist role.

“But these are dangerous situations and if they need to defend themselves, they will,” he said.

Residents reported increasing distress as insurgents put the city under virtual lockdown, blocking roads and setting up checkpoints to prevent people from leaving.

The roadblocks also kept essential supplies of food and medicine from reaching the city of some 300,000 people.

Published: Thursday 1st October 2015 by The News Editor

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