Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed Tuesday to retake the city of Kunduz from the Taliban, a day after the militant group seized the capital of the province of the same name. The U.S. conducted an airstrike over the city even as militants fanned out over Kunduz, their first major gain since they were forced from power in 2001 following the U.S.-led invasion.
In a televised address to the nation, Ghani, who is marking the anniversary of his ascent to the presidency, said Afghan forces had launched a counteroffensive in Kunduz, a city of 300,000 people, and are “retaking government buildings.” He said reinforcements, including special forces and commandos, are either in the city or on their way there.
Dowlat Waziri, a deputy spokesman for the defense ministry, told The Guardian that reinforcements had been sent from Kabul and Balkh provinces.
“The Taliban are being pushed back,” Waziri said. “In a few hours, the city will be free from their hands.”
But it may not be that easy—even with U.S. airstrikes.
Colonel Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the U.S. and NATO missions in Afghanistan, said the airstrike conducted early Tuesday was mean to “eliminate a threat to coalition and Afghan forces.” It is unclear if there will be more.