Afghan forces win back western town captured by Taliban in overnight raid

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At least 15 Afghan soldiers were killed after Taliban attacked their outpost in western province of Farah overnight, local Ariana News TV reported on Saturday. Some 40 militants were also killed, officials said.

"In total there are 18 persons of whom three have been captured and the rest including eight Special Forces have been killed", Bakhtawar said.

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This week's incident was the latest in a series to have hit Farah province, between the border with Iran and the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, source of much of Afghanistan's opium crop.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujhaid claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims are all members of a single family, he added.

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Both the Taliban and rival militants from a branch of the so-called Islamic State regularly attack local officials and security forces in Nangarhar Province.

Years have passed since the time when, years into the war, USA military and civilian officials heatedly debated "counterinsurgency" as contrasted with "counterterrorism", distinctions that now seem less than crucial.

Afghan and U.S. commanders have been relatively upbeat about the course of the war since U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new and more robust military strategy past year, with more air strikes and greater support for Afghan forces.

Although they have failed to take any major provincial cities, the insurgents have several times seized district centers, even if they have often been driven off soon after by government reinforcements. It came ahead of an expected increase in fighting with the end of winter and the approach of spring.

"The overall situation in Afghanistan probably will deteriorate modestly this year in the face of persistent political instability, sustained attacks by the Taleban-led insurgency, unsteady Afghan National Security Forces performance, and chronic financial shortfalls", Mr Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, told the US Senate last week.