Afghan Force Says It Has Retaken Kunduz From Taliban
Three days after Taliban fighters swept into Kunduz, Afghanistan's government says its troops have retaken the strategically important northern city, but reports suggest the fighting is not yet over in the city.
Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: Americans' Role In Combat
New details have emerged about the combat Americans were involved in this week, as they sought to protect the Kunduz airport from the Taliban.
From Col. Brian Tribus, public affairs director for the Army's mission in Afghanistan:
"U.S. Special Forces advisors, while advising and assisting elements of the Afghan Special Security Forces, encountered an insurgent threat in Kunduz city Oct. 1. U.S. Special Forces returned fire in self-defense to eliminate the threat."
Tribus adds that while the American's mission, called Resolute Support, is technically a non-combat one, "our servicemembers have the right to protect themselves if necessary."
He also described eight U.S. airstrikes this week:
"U.S. forces conducted two airstrikes Sept. 29, the first at approximately 9:15 a.m. on the outskirts of Kunduz city, and the second at approximately 11:30 p.m. in the vicinity of the Kunduz airport. U.S. forces conducted four airstrikes Sept. 30, one at approximately 1 a.m. (the strike mentioned above), two at approximately 5 p.m. in the vicinity of the Kunduz airport, and one additional at approximately 8 p.m. on the outskirts of Kunduz city. U.S. forces conducted two airstrikes Oct. 1, at approximately 3 p.m. on the outskirts of Kunduz city. These eight airstrikes were conducted to eliminate threats to coalition and Afghan forces."
Our original post continues:
NPR's Philip Reeves, who's based in Pakistan, reports for our Newscast unit:
"Officials and senior army officers are saying their troops are now in control of the city, after fighting their way back in overnight. They set out, they say, from the outlying airport, and were supported by U.S. airstrikes and NATO special forces advisers.
"The Taliban is denying that they've lost Kunduz and say that their fighters are still in the city and engaging with government forces; residents report the sound of gunfire."
The success of the Taliban's operation — in which the militant group took over a city with hundreds of thousands of residents — is being seen as a new warning about the ability of Afghanistan's government, and its U.S.-trained forces, to control the area around Kunduz.
As Eyder noted for the Two-Way Wednesday, the Taliban set up ambushes along the route traveled by government reinforcements, further complicating the Afghan military's attempts to retake the city.
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