Afghan security forces in Kabul's Surobi district said that last week the Taliban launched attacks to expand their presence in the district and the group closed the Kabul-Jalalabad key highway. These attacks, however, were repulsed, said security forces.
The forces added that their checkpoints are still facing threats from Taliban heavy weapons and that air operations are needed to completely clear the district of Taliban.
TOLOnews reporter Anisa Shaheed and cameraman Wahid Ahmadi traveled to the Jagdalak area of Surobi district and talked with security forces in the area.
Surobi district is a key district of Kabul but it is insecure.
Although the Taliban has been present in the district for the past decade, in the last two weeks, since peace talks began in Doha, the Taliban have launched large-scale attacks on parts of the district.
According to officials, the attacks were focused on the Surobi - Jagdalak center road.
“If the opposition could find a way to capture the Jagdalak area they could threaten the Surobi district and even Kabul,” said Mohammad Rafi, administrative deputy of the Surobi district police command.
TOLOnews reporter Anisa Shaheed traveled with security forces on the road from the center of the district to the Jagdalak area, which is about 43 km away along unpaved road.
The forces told Shaheed that the Taliban launched attacks on checkpoints in the Jagdalak area and at the same time planted mines every 10m along the road in order to prevent the deployment of assistance to security forces in the area.
“There are four local police and two ANP checkpoints that they [Taliban] wanted to seize. They had united their groups from Laghman, Nangarhar, Logar, Kapisa and Kabul provinces,” said Qais, a local police commander in Jagdalak.
“The opposition had completely blocked the route with several ambushes,” said Mohammad Rafi, administrative deputy of Surobi district police command.
The TOLOnews reporter said that remains of an army Humvee targeted by one of the mines can be seen on the road where at least three soldiers lost their lives and another was wounded.
“When we started clearing, we cleared about 35 mines from here, and now the road is clear," said Hekmatullah, the de-mining commander in Jagdalak.
Security forces in the area told Anisa that the Taliban had captured the Sorubi - Jagdalak road and for several days heavy clashes continued between the forces and the Taliban.
Security officials in the area told TOLOnews that the Taliban’s "red unit" commander along with his fighters held a stronghold on the top of a hill in the area and security forces attacked them and killed the commander along with around 30 fighters.
Kabul police also confirmed that on September 17, Ghairatullah, also known as Mullah Sangeen, the deputy commander of the Taliban's "Red Unit," was killed during an Afghan forces operation in the Surobi district of Kabul.
Security officials in Surobi district said that a new checkpoint was established on the way to the Jagdalak area.
“There were enemies in all the surrounding hills, so we came to aid the police and cleared the areas,” said Jan Aqa, battalion communication officer.
“All the way was closed and by moving a cannon we were able to kill the dangerous deputy commander of the Taliban's "Red Unit,” said Sarmast, commander of the artillery block.
The army commander in Surobi district said that the district shared borders with insecure provinces.
“Surobi shares borders with insecure provinces like Azra district of Logar province, Hasarak district of Nangarhar province, Badpakh district of Laghman province and with Tagab district of Kapisa province,” said Mohammad Hazem, commander of the Surobi army camp.
TOLOnews' Shaheed said that during travels to the last forces checkpoint in the Jagdalak area, they were faced with Taliban firing.
“Three bullets hit the checkpoint,” Matiullah, a soldier said.
“The Taliban are present in the surrounding areas and by using Humvees and Ranger vehicles they are fighting with us,” said Hashmat Fedaie, Surobi district police commander.
Nazir Mohammad Ibrahimkhail, chief of staff of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Brigade of the Afghan army said that there is a need for air support.
“The air force must destroy the heavy weapons of the enemy that are at higher locations. With those heavy weapons, the enemy threatens the police and army forces, and it is beyond our power to destroy them,” said Ibrahimkhail.
“Threats exist everywhere,” said Hayatullah, a local police officer.
Security checkpoints in the Jagdalak area were the last place occupied by the Taliban in Surobi District. According to the TOLOnews reporter, in the area four checkpoints were under siege by the Taliban for about five days, leaving soldiers without food and water until the way was opened.
The Taliban are still present in these areas, and they use mortars to target security forces. The machine guns they install on a Ranger vehicles are mobile and target security forces. One of the reasons why the Taliban value the area is the ruby mines that are said to exist in these mountains, and which are now under the control of the Taliban, who mine the stones.
Last week's clashes in the Jagdalak area claimed the lives of six security forces and wounded three others, but still soldiers are hopeful for a positive outcome to the peace talks.