U.S. launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

U.S. Central Command commander Gen. Jospeh Votel testifies at the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Capitol Hill in Washington

U.S. launches airstrikes as Taliban attack Afghan provincial capital Ghazni

'We are scared for our life.

He said the bodies of 39 Taliban soldiers were recovered beneath a bridge on the southern edge of the city. "We are terrified", Yasan wrote in a Facebook post.

Four security personnel were also killed and several others wounded as the clashes continued for several hours, Ghazni police spokesman Col. Farid Ahmad Mashal told Pajhwok Afghan News. The Taliban claimed to have shot it down, Radmanish said it was not clear if the aircraft had been hit or crash-landed for other reasons. Ghazni has been under threat from Taliban fighters for months. He did not say how many were dead and how many were wounded.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement hundreds of fighters captured several strategic sites within the city and killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers.

'Initial reports indicate minimal Afghan security force casualties, ' the United States spokesman said, adding that American forces deployed attack helicopters and conducted a drone strike in the response.

Heavy fighting was ongoing as of Friday afternoon in the city, where Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces were engaging fighters "by air and ground", Noori said.

The attack on Afghan soldiers resulted in multiple casualties on both sides, Ghazni government spokesman Mohammad Arif Noori told CNN. Forces-Afghanistan, which oversees American troops in the country, confirmed the attack via Twitter, calling it a "failed attempt" to capture territory. U.S.

Votel said he wants to look at minimizing vulnerabilities to Afghan forces, and especially wants to look at employment of high-end Afghan special operations forces and ensuring those forces are used correctly and not overused.

The insurgents frequently exaggerate their battlefield gains and downplay losses incurred during fighting.

The attack came amid growing hopes of talks to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan and less than two weeks before the Eid al-Adha festival, when the Western-backed government in Kabul had been considering offering a ceasefire.

They came close to repeating the feat in 2016, and in May this year they almost overran the western city of Farah before being beaten back with the aid of US forces.

Andrew Wilder, vice president of Asia programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said the attack by the insurgents was "a well-timed effort to demonstrate their military power to strengthen their negotiating position prior to another cease-fire and in the event of peace talks".

An unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the Taliban to a temporary halt, giving war-weary Afghans some welcome relief from violence.

He said China has always supported the issue of peace talks and that they "continue to facilitate the talks based on the principle of (it being) Afghan-led and Afghan-owned".

On August 6, the Financial Times reported that Chinese officials had reportedly met the Afghan Taliban several times in the past year.

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