US, Afghan forces launch mission on Taliban to retake Kunduz

Afghan troops and US forces begin military operations in Kunduz to recapture Taliban held city

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Afghan special forces arrive for a battle with the Taliban in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan

Updated Oct 1, 2015

Afghan government forces and the US launched operations against the Taliban on Tuesday a day after the group seized the northern city of Kunduz.

Afghanistan's Defence Ministry on Tuesday said that Afghan troops launched an operation to take back the strategic city which was the Taliban’s former northern stronghold and is an important transportation hub for the north of the country.

The government statement said the provincial governor's office, prisons and police headquarters in the town had been retaken.

Afghan special forces arrive at Kabul airport as they launch a counteroffensive to retake the city of Kunduz from Taliban insurgents (AFP)

The Taliban’s capture of the city on Monday came after the first anniversary of President Ashraf Ghani in power.

Afghan deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi said the year-old government will investigate how the Taliban managed to capture a major city 14 years after it lost power when the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Following the government statement a NATO spokesman on Tuesday said that US military planes hit Taliban positions on the outskirts of Kunduz about 9 am (0400 GMT) local time.  

NATO spokesman Colonel Brian Tribus said, "US forces conducted an air strike in Kunduz today to eliminate a threat to coalition and Afghan forces operating in the vicinity of Kunduz."

The Afghan government and the United States signed a security deal in 2014, allowing 10,000 US troops to remain in the country after NATO’s combat mission ended in December 2014.

President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the deal, stating that Afghanistan had regained its sovereignty.

Last week, the Taliban’s new leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour demanded in a statement that the Afghan government expel foreign troops from the country and cancel a security deal with the United States in return for the possibility of peace talks with the Kabul government.  

"Reports that the Taliban have already sent armed fighters into a public provincial hospital are extremely worrying," the human rights organisation Amnesty International said in a statement.

The Afghan army's Deputy Chief of Staff Murad Ali said the army withdrew during the Taliban’s incursion in the city in order to avoid civilian casuaties. More than 100 people were injured after the Taliban attacked the city.

Defending the army’s actions on Monday he said, "Our forces arrived there on time, but we had to take extra care not to cause civilian casualties,"

TRTWorld and agencies