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Taliban Commander Who Led Attack on Afghan City Was Released From Prison Last Year, Officials Say

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KABUL—The Taliban commander overseeing an assault on the important southern city of Lashkargah is one of 5,000 former prisoners unveiled by the Afghan government final year under strain from the U.S., Afghan and Western officials say.

The commander, Mawlavi Talib, is one of 1000’s of former prisoners freed to even more peace talks who have returned to the battlefield to join the Taliban onslaught versus towns all-around the region, Afghan officials say. The presence of the Taliban fighters is a contemporary strain in relations between Washington and Kabul, as the U.S.-backed government struggles to fend off Taliban assaults throughout the region.

Afghan officials claimed fierce combating continued Tuesday in Lashkargah, the provincial cash of Helmand province, right after large U.S. airstrikes and a counterattack by U.S.-educated Afghan commandos overnight. Underneath Mr. Talib’s command, hundreds of Taliban have pushed toward the city middle over the past week. On Tuesday they introduced an attack on Lashkargah’s jail in a bid to launch extra inmates and recruit them into the fight.

The combating in Lashkargah is portion of a wider countrywide Taliban offensive that experienced captured fifty percent of the country’s remote districts by final month and now threatens provincial capitals. On Tuesday, the government claimed that its commandos introduced a counterattack in the western city of Herat, whose defenses were being teetering. Taliban forces final month pierced defenses in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s 2nd major city, but government forces are holding continuous there.

Afghanistan’s Protection Ministry claimed Tuesday its forces killed all-around 375 Taliban and wounded 193 in combating throughout the region in the final 24 hrs. Eleven improvised explosive units were being learned and defused, the ministry claimed. The Afghan government has stopped releasing statistics on its very own navy casualties to stay clear of demoralizing its troops.