Taliban Commander Who Led Attack on Afghan City Was Released From Prison Last Year, Officials Say
According to Afghan and Western officials, the Taliban commander currently overseeing an assault on the city of Lashkargah, located in southern Afghanistan, is one of 5,000 former prisoners that were released by the Afghan government last year due to pressure from the United States. The commander in question, Mawlavi Talib, was freed to facilitate peace talks and now has returned to the battlefield to fight for the Taliban again amidst an onslaught against cities around the country. The conflict has strained relations between the US and Afghanistan as the latter struggles to fight back against the terrorist organization. Afghan officials reported fighting across Lashkargah throughout Tuesday. Heavy US airstrikes and a counterattack by Afghan commandos occurred overnight, according to authorities.
Hundreds of Taliban have allegedly pushed towards the city center over the past week, launching an attack on a prison center in Lashkargah to release more inmates and recruit them. The fighting in Lashkargah is part of a wider offensive perpetrated by the Taliban. Last month, the group was able to overcome defenses in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, however, the government remains in control. According to the Afghan Defense Ministry, 375 Taliban have been killed in the conflict.