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Taliban launches overnight and pre-dawn assaults on 2 districts in Afghanistan, captures one of them

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said it has taken control of the entire district of Khan Abad in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan

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Taliban Fighters. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Taliban forces launched overnight and pre-dawn assaults on two districts in eastern and northern Afghanistan, capturing one of them, say Afghan officials and insurgent sources.

Local police commander Munir Himat told VOA hundreds of Taliban insurgents staged a pre-dawn assault on Hesarak in eastern Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, but that security forces with the support of airstrikes pushed them back, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. He reported fighting was still taking place in parts of the district.

Afghan officials also confirmed the fall of Khan Abad district in northern Kunduz province to the Taliban in overnight fighting and say heavy fighting is taking place in the nearby Aliabad district.

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Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid says it has taken control of the entire district of Khan Abad in northern Kunduz province and has released video of Afghan soldiers insurgents captured before the important territorial victory.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. Image source: www.pakistantoday.com.pk
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. Image source: www.pakistantoday.com.pk

The fall of the Khan Abad district after days of heavy clashes would bring the Islamist insurgent group close enough to threaten the strategically important provincial capital also named Kunduz that was briefly overrun by the Taliban during last year’s fighting.

Significance of Kunduz

Kunduz’s fall to the Taliban in September of 2015 had dealt a blow to authorities and Afghanistan’s international backers because this was the first major urban centre the insurgents captured after NATO withdrew its combat forces from the country.

“Kunduz is currently the most vulnerable province in the Afghan North. Since the provincial capital fell last year, Kunduz has seen more Taliban attacks on district centres than any other province in the country,” according to Kabul-based independent Afghanistan Analysts Network.

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The insurgents recently captured a district in the neighbouring Baghlan province to expand their influence in the area in a bid to threaten Afghanistan’s crucial ring road, which circles the country. Observers say the Taliban appears to be trying to cut off of the road to restrict Kabul’s access to the northern provinces

US airstrikes

Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David Golden revealed this past week that B-52 strategic bombers have carried out airstrikes against targets in Afghanistan for the first time in a decade, underscoring the intensity of the fighting.

According to a statement, U.S. warplanes have flown more than 800 sorties and conducted more than 140 strikes in the country since U.S. President Barack Obama ordered in June that air power be used more proactively in Afghanistan.

Critics say that recent security gains by Afghan forces across the country have been overshadowed by the Taliban’s recent battlefield victories.

The insurgent group has overrun several districts in Afghanistan’s largest province of Helmand and fighting there has most recently been taking place near the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

The Taliban’s steady advances in the poppy-growing province, which borders Pakistan, have come despite increased in American airstrikes in the area. (VOA)

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Apple Music On Lead Over Its Rival Spotify In All Market: Report

Trial users were not part of the comparison, the report added.

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Apple Music now has more than 45 million subscribers world-wide, with an additional 5-10 million free trial users.
Apple Music now has more than 45 million subscribers world-wide, with an additional 5-10 million free trial users. Pixabay

With more than 20 million paying users in the US, Apple Music has just taken the lead over its rival Spotify in an all-important market, the media reported.

Spotify still leads outside of the US, tallying 75 million subscribers as part of its first earnings report in May.

“The source, a US-based, major distributor, shared a report detailing the subscriber tallies of several streaming music services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Sirius XM. That report now ranks Apple Music as first in the US, at least among primarily on-demand music streaming services,” the Digital Music News recently reported.

Spotify Music still leads outside of the US, tallying 75 million subscribers as part of its first earnings report in May.
Spotify Music still leads outside of the US, tallying 75 million subscribers as part of its first earnings report in May. Pixabay

The data for 2018 also shows that Apple is experiencing a far stronger rate-of-growth in the US, suggesting a wider lead over the coming months.

Trial users were not part of the comparison, the report added.

Apple Music now has more than 45 million subscribers world-wide, with an additional 5-10 million free trial users.

Also read: 6.5-Inch Colorful iPhones To be Launched This Year By Apple

The iPhone maker’s free trials last about three months while Spotify says it has more than 70 million paying subscribers globally, with roughly 160 million overall users. (IANS)