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Battle For Key Afghan City Rages For Fourth Day

Afghan security personnel patrol in Ghazni on August 12.

Afghan government forces are battling the Taliban in Ghazni for a fourth straight day after the militant group launched an assault on the eastern city, officials say.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said reinforcements had been sent to Ghazni, the capital of the province of the same name, and were trying to clear the city of Taliban on August 13.

Afghan officials were quoted as saying that American special forces units were on the ground helping to coordinate air strikes and ground operations but that was not confirmed by the U.S. military.

Ghazni is a strategic city located on the main road linking the capital, Kabul, with southern Afghanistan.

Three days after the militants launched their assault on the city of 270,000 people early on August 10, information was difficult to verify with telecommunications services being shut down due to the clashes.

About 100 soldiers and police have been killed and many wounded, according to a security official who said casualties on the Taliban side have also been heavy.

Officials at the Interior Ministry were cited as saying that the fighting also left at least 15 civilians dead and more than 400 others wounded.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called on the parties to "protect the lives and rights of civilians and to protect civilian infrastructure," particularly medical facilities.

"Medication at the main hospital is reportedly becoming very scarce and people are unable to safely bring casualties for treatment," Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, said in a statement.

He also said it was "unsafe" for people to travel to larger cities where medical facilities are available.

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents reported on August 12 that the Kabul-Kandahar highway was blocked, leaving hundreds of people stranded.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

In May, the Taliban attacked the western city of Farah. After a day of intense fighting, Afghan commandos and U.S. air strikes drove the group to the outskirts of the city.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan