KABUL—The Taliban commander overseeing an assault on the crucial southern metropolis of Lashkargah is a person of 5,000 former prisoners unveiled by the Afghan government past calendar year less than strain from the U.S., Afghan and Western officers say.

The commander, Mawlavi Talib, is a person of hundreds of former prisoners freed to more peace talks who have returned to the battlefield to be part of the Taliban onslaught against cities about the state, Afghan officers say. The presence of the Taliban fighters is a fresh strain in relations among Washington and Kabul, as the U.S.-backed government struggles to fend off Taliban assaults throughout the state.

Afghan officers mentioned intense preventing continued Tuesday in Lashkargah, the provincial cash of Helmand province, immediately after large U.S. airstrikes and a counterattack by U.S.-educated Afghan commandos right away. Under Mr. Talib’s command, hundreds of Taliban have pushed toward the metropolis center in excess of the earlier week. On Tuesday they released an attack on Lashkargah’s jail in a bid to launch much more inmates and recruit them into the struggle.

The preventing in Lashkargah is portion of a wider countrywide Taliban offensive that experienced captured 50 % of the country’s remote districts by past month and now threatens provincial capitals. On Tuesday, the government mentioned that its commandos released a counterattack in the western metropolis of Herat, whose defenses ended up teetering. Taliban forces past month pierced defenses in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second most significant metropolis, but government forces are holding continual there.

Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry mentioned Tuesday its forces killed about 375 Taliban and wounded 193 in preventing throughout the state in the past 24 hrs. Eleven improvised explosive equipment ended up discovered and defused, the ministry mentioned. The Afghan government has stopped releasing figures on its own armed forces casualties to avoid demoralizing its troops.