Taliban capture key district near Kabul

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Kabul

Taliban insurgents captured a key district just outside the Afghan capital Kabul in central Wardak province, forcing government forces to retreat, security officials said.

The seizure of Nerkh district comes amid intensifying violence following an announcement by the Islamist group of a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan for the Muslim religious holiday of Eid, starting this week.

Tariq Arian, an interior ministry spokesman, said government troops made a “tactical retreat” from the district centre, which is a gateway to Kabul, after a heavy firefight with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, as the US prepares to end its longest war in Afghanistan, its top commander there said it’s the responsibility of the Afghan military to step up.

“As you look at the fight and the violence, which is too much, the violence is too high,” commander of U.S. forces General Austin Scott Miller told CBS News in an exclusive interview. “The Afghan security forces are prepared for it.

They have the capabilities. People have heard me say publicly, the Afghan security forces have to hold.” When asked whether Afghan forces will be ready, Miller said, “They have to be ready.”

“As the drawdown goes on our objective is — and my objective personally is — to make sure the Afghan security forces are in the absolutely best possible posture,” he said.—Reuters/CBS News