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Fighting rages in Afghanistan after talks collapse

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Fighting has intensified in several parts of northern Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday, days after talks between the United States and the Taliban aimed at agreeing to withdraw thousands of US troops from Afghanistan collapsed.

Fighting erupted in at least 10 provinces, the heaviest in the northern provinces of Takhar, Baghlan, Kunduz and Badakhshan, where security forces are under pressure from the Taliban, officials said.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that security forces on Wednesday recovered the Kran and Mangan area of ​​Badakhshan. The Taliban seized the area in July and were earning huge revenues from its vast lapis lazuli reserves.

It is the third area the security forces have succeeded in regaining as part of their campaign in the province in the past few days after Yamgan and Warduj, which the Taliban have seized in the past four years.

But in the neighboring province of Takhar, local officials said government forces had withdrawn this week from Yanji Qala and Darqad while fighting continued in two other areas.

The recent fighting highlights expectations of an escalation of violence following US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancellation of talks with the Taliban aimed at pulling US troops out and paving the way for an end to the 18-year war.

The Taliban said the decision, which Trump said was due to the group’s refusal to agree to a ceasefire and continued attacks that killed a US soldier last week, would lead to more US deaths.

In response, a senior US general said the US military would likely accelerate its operations in Afghanistan to counter rising Taliban attacks.

Security officials said the scale of fighting in the north of the country reflected the expected escalation of hostilities after peace efforts collapsed, as well as trying to make gains before the winter, which limits fighting in mountainous areas.

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