The Afghan armed forces said on Tuesday that they have repulsed a Taliban offensive in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of the northern Balkh province, with over 80 militants killed in the operation.
On Monday, the Taliban announced that they would soon capture Mazar-i-Sharif. Shortly after the advance was launched, the radical movement told Sputnik that the government had lost control over the city and that it would soon be occupied by the Taliban.
“Heroic security and defense forces members, paratroopers with support of the Air Force and militia have once again contained the enemy,” the 209 Shaheen Corps of the Afghan National Army wrote on social media.
The Taliban attack was aimed at breaking the Pul-e-Imam Bukhari defense line in the Dihdadi district and capturing a stronghold in the Nahr-e Shahi district, the Afghan military said. Over 80 Taliban militants were killed in the fighting, with one hideout and a large cache of weapons and ammunition destroyed.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands is set to continue deporting rejected Afghan asylum seekers despite the Taliban intensifying their offensive in the conflict-torn country, the NRC Handelsblad newspaper reported on Tuesday.
In July, Afghanistan called on the European Union to stop deporting Afghan asylum seekers for at least three months in light of intensified clashes between Taliban militants and government forces.
However, the Netherlands and five other EU countries, namely Germany, Denmark, Austria, Belgium and Greece, reportedly submitted a letter to the European Commission, asking to keep in force the existing agreement with Afghanistan on refugees’ deportation.
In this letter, the EU nations refer to the obligation of all countries to repatriate their nationals. They also expressed their concern over the prospects of Afghanistan remaining the main source of undocumented migration to the bloc in the future.
The hostilities between the Afghan government forces and the Taliban have been on the rise as foreign troops began withdrawing from the country. According to the UN assistance mission, the number of Afghans killed or injured in the first half of the year hit a record 5,183, with a particularly sharp rise recorded in May when the Taliban launched their offensive.