Fierce fighting between US-allied national Afghan forces and the Taliban broke out Saturday into Sunday, the day after the May 1st American pullout deadline set under the Trump administration. It included the Taliban immediately attacking a government base in southwestern Ghazni province.
Afghanistan's defense ministry counted over 100 Taliban insurgents killed over the prior 24 hours in a statement on Sunday, at a moment the US is said to have started the process of withdrawal. The statement counted a further 52 Taliban wounded. Separately an attack on the Ghazni military outpost left at least 17 national soldiers dead and some 25 captured, according to international reports.
And elsewhere in the country "Afghan officials Saturday raised the death toll to at least 30 from an overnight truck bombing in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of eastern Logar province," VOA News reports. Over 100 more were injured, with all or most of the victims being civilians.
Amid the flare-up in fighting the US military said it launched a "precision strike" against Taliban positions in the restive insurgent hotbed of Kandahar.
Meanwhile as expected the Taliban has now declared 'open season' on all remaining American troops following President Biden's new Sept.11 full withdrawal deadline. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued the following statement: "As withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by agreed upon May 1st deadline has passed, this violation in principle has opened the way for [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces."
"The Mujahidin of IEA will now await what decision the leadership of Islamic Emirate takes in light of the sovereignty, values and higher interests of the country, and will then take action accordingly, Allah willing."
#Clarification— Zabihullah (..ذبـــــیح الله م ) (@Zabehulah_M33) May 1, 2021
As withdrawal of foreign forces from #Afghanistan by agreed upon May 1st deadline has passed, this violation in principle has opened the way for IEA Mujahidin to take every counteraction it deems appropriate against the occupying forces.
But US troops do appear to be drawing down in earnest, while also beefing up security to protect withdrawing forces during the dismantling process. For example on Sunday US forces handed over a Helmand camp to national forces. Senior officers representing both sides attended a handover ceremony on Sunday morning at Camp Antonik as fighting raged elsewhere in the country. The base is home to Afghan Special Forces.
"The Afghan military will intensify anti-terrorism operations and will target strongholds of the terrorists in any area of the southwest of the country (from this base)," a statement said.
Likely this is only the beginning, as indicators suggest Monday...
Head of provincial council in Helmand warns that Lashkar Gah is under threat of collapse. In two days 18 outposts have fallen in neighboring Nawa district and around the Lash-Kandahar road, he said. From @Taimoornyt— Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@Tmgneff) May 3, 2021