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 The Afghan National Defence Security Forces (ANDSF) have launched a number of operations at different locations targeting the Taliban.

This includes the Taliban-controlled Nijrab district of Kapisa Province. However, as per latest indications, the Taliban controls 218 districts, while the Afghan government controls 108 districts and 100 districts remain contested.

In Herat Province, clashes continued in the city of Herat as well as the adjoining Injil district. Provincial Governor Abdul Qane expressed confidence in the city's defence and averred that the Taliban were suffering heavy casualties on account of ANDSF air strikes.

However, the Taliban has been resorting to the strategy of securing position within the city and among the population so as to engage the ANDSF in urban warfare which the ANDSF might not be well versed with. Meanwhile, assistance has come to the ANDSF in the form of former Mujahideen leader Ismail Khan leading militia forces in support of the ANDSF. He has called on the residents of Herat to mobilise against the Taliban and save themselves from "forces of ignorance".

The ANDSF operation in the city of Herat is based on extensive clearing operations which has been aimed at selectively targeting areas in the city which has Taliban presence and where they are able to access the interiors of the city.

The coordination between the Afghan forces on ground and the Air Force has been working fine thus far in terms of launching operations against the Taliban. The government has been doing its best in controlling the situation and in order to hit back at the Taliban and to not give them any opportunity to take over the city. Abdul Rahman Rahman, Deputy Interior Minister, has been in Herat coordinating the strategy of security forces.

Meanwhile, the Taliban has been carefully collecting and stashing arms recovered during their operations for future use, thus indicating their preparedness for a long drawn conflict. The Taliban Military Commission has instructed its field commanders to ensure that all military equipment captured from the ANDSF should be recorded and stored safely, instead of being appropriated for personal use by Taliban militants. These "directions" come in the backdrop of substantial number of vehicles, pieces of weaponry and ammunition falling into Taliban hands during their recent offensives (May-July). Inputs continue to indicate that captured equipment and vehicles were being transferred to Pakistan by the Taliban.

Significantly, with the casualties caused among their forces, the Taliban has been trying to use the services of foreign cadres for training the new entrants. Some of the best trained cadres have always been from the central Asian states who were sought by terror organisations such as the IS and the Al Qaeda in the past. Some of them have been instructors with various militant organisations and are considered among the best in the job, intelligence sources said.

Arab and Chechen trainers have been involved in training new cadres being inducted as their numbers recede with casualties being caused. Around 6,000 fresh terrorists based in Pakistan are being trained by Arab and Chechen instructors with the aim of raising a new unit. Meanwhile, infiltration of Taliban terrorists into Afghanistan from Pakistan continues.

The Taliban's activities have not spared the Hazara community which is likely to face the wrath of the Taliban in the coming days unless preventive action is taken against such moves.

In this connection, the US Embassy in Kabul has expressed its concerns on the persecution of the Hazara community and said on August 3 that the targeted killing of Hazaras has been a devastating focus of the IS as well as the Taliban. Urging for an immediate ceasefire, it further said: "We are learning about the Taliban's murder of more than 40 civilians in Malistan in Ghazni province. If true, these could constitute war crimes. The human rights abuses must be investigated."

The Iranians have been watching the situation closely and would want to protect the interest of the Hazaras to the extent possible. Given that engaging the Taliban could be complicated for the Iranians and considering Pakistan has significant control over the group, the Iranians would possibly approach the Pakistanis to sort out the issue.

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