Taliban Blindsides U.S. Forces With Surprise Afghan Offensive by Carlo Muñoz - Washington Times
The Taliban is on the verge of dramatically expanding its control over southern and eastern Afghanistan in a surprise offensive that has caught Afghan and American forces off guard and thrown a vexing new wrench into the Trump administration’s strategy for ending the nearly 17-year-old war there.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said Monday a Taliban assault on the city of Ghanzi — a key provincial capital linking other areas under the Islamic militant group’s control just 75 miles southeast of Kabul — has killed roughly 100 Afghan security forces and some 20 civilians over the past three days.
While the Afghan forces, backed by U.S. and NATO advisors, claimed Monday night to have retained control of central Ghanzi, local reports indicated Taliban fighters still held pockets of the city and had simultaneously swept in and taken over most of the surrounding province’s rural areas.
Analysts said the development has underscored the Taliban’s capability for a resurgence in Afghanistan and will likely increase the group’s political leverage over peace talks with U.S. officials that the Trump administration has quietly been trying to get off the ground.
Should the Taliban ultimately wrestle Ghazni away from Afghan security forces, it would mark the first major district center to fall to the group since it captured the northern Afghan city of Kunduz in 2015…