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13 Aug, 2018 23:52

Taliban at its strongest since 2001 after seizing Ghazni, war on terror has failed, analyst tells RT

Taliban at its strongest since 2001 after seizing Ghazni, war on terror has failed, analyst tells RT

Around 100 Afghan troops were killed in fighting with Taliban for the strategic city of Ghazni. The group is now at its strongest since 2001 and the US ‘war on terror’ has failed, geopolitical analyst Ali Rizk told RT.

For the last four days, the Taliban has been clashing with government forces for control of Ghazni Province and its main city, which is located just 150km from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

Despite the Afghan troops being supported by US airstrikes and ground forces, events on the battlefield have not gone in their favor. By Monday, the Taliban already had most of the city in its grasp, with the military only holding government buildings and police headquarters, which have been under constant attack, according to an Afghan general.

Kabul-based journalist Sultan Faizy told RT that “the situation is really harsh and the hospitals are full of dead bodies and wounded. People are really scared, highways have been blocked since four days ago, communication lines are down.”

Faizy also said the Taliban had seized food from government-owned stores and distributed it among those in need, in an attempt to gain popular support.

The assault on Ghazni has been the group’s largest military operation since the Taliban offered the authorities a surprise three-day truce during Ramadan festivities in June.

The Taliban will keep winning in Afghanistan if the US “continues with its focus on just military force” in dealing with a group that it has been unable to defeat for the past 17 years, writer and regional analyst Ali Rizk told RT.

“The so-called war on terror, which was launched after the 9/11 attacks, has turned out to be an utter failure. The Taliban is now in a stronger position than it ever was since it was ousted from power in 2001,” he said.

By pushing through with the military solution, Washington has been pursuing a “wrong strategy,” the analyst said. “On the contrary, the US involvement up until now has led to the growth of terrorism instead of leading to its curbing. That’s clear from what we see in Afghanistan.”

“If the US continues to pursue the same strategy, advocated by the generals… then Taliban would just make more advances in Afghanistan,” Rizk warned.

READ MORE: US money to support Afghan irrigation ‘helped’ poppy cultivation – watchdog

The US did agree to talk with the Taliban face-to-face after the group said that no peace negotiations with the Afghan government were possible without discussing the withdrawal of US troops with Washington.

High-ranking Taliban officials told the Guardian on Monday that the meeting with senior US State Department official Alice Wells in Qatar on July 23 was “very helpful” and could eventually pave the way for Taliban sitting down with the Afghan leadership.

“The real terrorist threat is Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), which has launched all these attacks, whether it be in Syria, in Iraq and even in Europe,” Ali Rizk told RT. “The Taliban’s main focus is within Afghanistan, seizing power within the country,” he added.

The Taliban has been in control of half of the Afghan territory, according to a report in May from the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The government controlled only 229 of Afghanistan's 407 districts, while the rest were either in the hands of militants or contested.

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