Fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban has left more than 100 insurgents dead in the past 24 hours, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday, as the US military continued its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Taliban and government forces clashed in several provinces, including in the former insurgent stronghold of Kandahar where the US military carried out a “precision strike” on Saturday as it officially began the final troop withdrawal.
52 other Taliban fighters were injured in the clashes, the ministry said in a statement, without giving details of the losses suffered by government forces.
The Taliban have not commented on the fighting, but both sides are known to exaggerate the losses inflicted on the other.
Fighting on the ground has continued unabated in recent months, as peace efforts to end 20 years of conflict have failed.
The U.S. military officially began withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from the violence-ravaged country on Saturday, as ordered by President Joe Biden last month.
U.S. officials on the ground say the pullout began days before May 1 – a deadline agreed between Washington and the Taliban last year to complete the pullout.
The withdrawal of all American forces will now be completed before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as announced by President Biden.
The US military said on Saturday it carried out a “precision strike” after an airfield in Kandahar, where it has a base, “received ineffective indirect fire” which caused no damage.
The attack on the base, which has not been claimed by any group, came as the Taliban warned that the US military had violated the agreement signed last year by failing to complete the withdrawal of troops before the May 1.
“This in principle paves the way for our mujahedin to take appropriate measures against the invading forces,” Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Taliban, told AFP, adding that the group was awaiting orders from its leaders to its future action plan.
Since the US Withdrawal Agreement was concluded, the Taliban have not directly engaged foreign troops, but have mercilessly attacked government forces in the countryside and waged a campaign of terror in urban areas.
Afghan officials said all foreign troops were taken to Bagram, the largest US base in Afghanistan, and from there they would leave for their respective countries.