Security forces take back Bilchiragh District from Taliban, eye more gains

By Sulaiman

Afghan forces take part in a military operation in this undated photo. [Facebook/209th Shaheen Corps]

Afghan forces take part in a military operation in this undated photo. [Facebook/209th Shaheen Corps]

KABUL -- Afghan security forces regained control of one of two districts overrun by the Taliban earlier this week in northern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials.

The Taliban seized control of Tala Wa Barfak District, Baghlan Province, and Bilchiragh District, Faryab Province, Tuesday (May 8).

By late Wednesday, however, Afghan troops were able to recapture Bilchiragh.

"Yesterday evening about 7.00pm, Afghan commandos retook Bilchiragh District of Faryab Province back from the Taliban," Maj. Mohammad Hanif Rezayee, a spokesperson for the 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army, told Salaam Times on Thursday.

"The Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties during the operations," he said. Twenty-two militants, including three commanders, were killed, and seven were wounded. Others were forced to flee, according to Rezayee.

"Plans are already in place to retake Tala Wa Barfak District," he said.

"Afghan army commandos, police and air force units have neared the district from three different directions: Tarmoz Valley, Kian Valley and Bamiyan Province," he said. "We will soon retake it from the militants."

Security forces are taking precautions because "the militants have blown up bridges and there is a possibility of land mines in the area", he added.

Taliban spring offensive certain to fail

The resilience of the Afghan security forces is an indication that the Taliban's annual spring offensive, "Operation al-Khandaq", announced on April 25, will be the militants' latest failure.

After numerous spring offensives, the Taliban have been "unable to meet any of their goals", Asadullah Walwalji, a Kabul-based military analyst, told Salaam Times. "Now that they are under far more pressure than ever before, there is no way that they can achieve their objectives."

"With the announcement of a new US strategy [in Afghanistan] ... the military pressure on and air strikes against [Taliban] strongholds increased," Sayed Safiullah Hashemi, a representative from Samangan Province in the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of parliament), told Salaam Times.

"There is only one path left for the Taliban, and it is not another [spring offensive]... rather, it is the path of peace," Walwalji said.

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