Taliban close to seizing Helmand Province in Afghanistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows Taliban militants in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

A senior Afghan official has warned that the militant-riddled southern province of Helmand is on the brink of falling to the Taliban militant group.

Mohammad Jan Rasulyar, the deputy provincial governor for Helmand, on Sunday pleaded for urgent intervention by Afghan forces to save the province.

Rasulyar, in his Facebook post addressed to President Ashraf Ghani, confirmed that at least 90 Afghan security forces have been killed in fierce ongoing clashes with militants over the past two days in the troubled province.

"I know that bringing up this issue on social media will make you very angry," Rasulyar wrote, adding, "But I cannot be silent any more... as Helmand stands on the brink... Ninety men have been killed in Gereshk and Sangin districts in the last two days."

Rasulyar also complained that army and police units have been badly weakened by desertions and lack of supplies.

"We don't provide food and ammunition to our forces on time, do not evacuate our wounded and martyred soldiers from the battle field, and foreign forces only watch the situation from their bases and don't provide support," he wrote.

Local officials have also said that militants are making steady gains in and around Gereshk town, the provincial capital Lashkar Gah and Sangin district.

The militants have already seized the districts of Musa Qala and Nowzad in the north of the province.

A former stronghold of the Taliban and an opium production hub, Helmand has been the scene of fierce fighting between the militants and government forces over the past months.

Afghan security personnel inspect the site of an attack after a militant detonated a lorry truck bomb targeting police headquarters in Lashkar Gah on June 30, 2015 . (AFP photo)

In recent months, the Taliban have mounted fierce attacks in several parts of Afghanistan, including the northern province of Kunduz. They stormed the province on September 28 and held it for three days before being driven out by the Afghan army.

Afghanistan faces a security challenge years after the United States and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still beset with insecurity.


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