VIDEO: Afghan forces in Heavy fighting with Taliban in Sangin

Wed Dec 23, 2015 18:36:59

Afghanistan's Acting Defence Minister Masoom Stanekzai says heavy fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban is ongoing in the district of Sangin.

Afghan government forces have lost control of the centre of the town of Sangin in Helmand province after days of fierce fighting, reports suggest.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC the Taliban controlled the local government building and police station.But The Taliban say their fighters have seized the entire district.

Afghan forces on Wednesday (December 23) battled Taliban fighters who overran the district of Sangin in the southern province of Helmand this week after reinforcements and NATO military advisers were rushed in to try to stop another district falling into insurgent hands.

VIDEO: Afghan forces in Heavy fighting with Taliban in Sangin

Acting Defence Minister Masoom Stanekzai said fighting was going on in Sangin where government forces had been surrounded by insurgents who controlled most of the district including roads needed for reinforcements and supplies.

“Yes, the fighting is ongoing in Sangin. There is no doubt about that. The military is in their position and their operation is ongoing around Sangin, and there is reinforcements already there. There is a plan for a broader operation around that area. There is other areas which were under pressures but those attacks were reverted and there were some very good successes in some other districts in Helmand province," Stanekzai told a news conference in Kabul.

Provincial police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang said the situation had improved since the beginning of the week but heavy fighting was continuing.

Although much attention has been focused on Sangin, fierce fighting has been underway across much of Helmand, a traditional stronghold of the Taliban and a major centre for opium.

Ashraf Ghani

The crisis in Helmand has piled pressure on the government of President Ashraf Ghani, following the fall of the northern city of Kunduz in September, which Taliban fighters seized and held for several days.

Government forces have complained bitterly about being left without adequate supplies and reinforcements as well as with none of the air power that backed up NATO forces when they fought in the region.

Military advisers from Britain have joined other NATO advisers in Helmand to help Afghan forces who have struggled to contain the insurgency since foreign troops withdrew from combat operations last year.

NATO officials say the troops sent to Helmand are not taking a direct part in combat and they have not confirmed reports that special forces were among the advisers.

The Taliban said the reinforcements showed the government's desperation, but Stanekzai disputed this.

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