Taliban offensive sees militants enter strategic northern city in Afghanistan

Amid ongoing United States-Taliban peace talks taking place in Doha which are said to be on the verge of reaching a historic conclusion, a major Taliban offensive back in Afghanistan, where the war continues regardless, has seen forces of the militant group enter a strategic northern city which they intend to seize.

The government-held city of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s sixth largest population center, has endured three Taliban assault waves in less than a week with the insurgent group storming government defenses using hundreds of fighters at a time.

There are also reports that the countryside around Kunduz has fallen mostly under the control of the Taliban (not an uncommon thing in the Afghan war) and that government forces in the city are effectively under siege.

The intensity of clashes coupled with the overwhelming need for Afghanistan’s leadership to hold Kunduz has seen the commitment of Afghan and US combat aircraft including rocket-armed helicopters and strike fighters to the battle.

On the ground, multiple reports have stated that parts of the city have come under Taliban control, or at least temporarily so before local government counter-attacks pushed insurgent fighters back into the countryside.

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The Taliban has launched a number of major operations to try seize Kunduz over recent years and in 2015 actually captured and held the city for almost three weeks before withdrawing from it when pro-government forces launched a major counter-offensive backed by airstrikes.

The fact that such a serious Taliban offensive is taking place against such a strategic location as peace talks with the US continue in Doha has led some analysts to conclude that the insurgent group seeks to improve its diplomatic bargaining power within the negotiations by achieving a major military victory on the battlefield.