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MOSCOW, Aug 5 (Reuters) – The Taliban offensive in Afghanistan is “slowly running out of breath” as the group lacks the resources to conquer large cities, Interfax news agency quoted a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official on Thursday.

Alexander Vikantov, deputy chief of information and press at the ministry, gave examples of Afghan government forces recapturing some districts captured by the Taliban last month, but added that insurgents near major provincial centers were notable that month.

“The Taliban lack the resources to take over and hold large cities like the capital Kabul. Your offensive is slowly losing momentum, ”he said. Russia will continue to press for peace talks, he added.

The Taliban’s rapid territorial gains in rural Afghanistan in recent months have surprised many, particularly the Afghan government.

As the pace of this lightning strike has slowed, insurgent militants have turned their attention to urban centers and are penetrating deep into three major provincial capitals, many fearful of falling under Taliban control.

The fighting was particularly fierce in the city of Herat near the western border with Iran, Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province in the southwest, and Kandahar in the south.

Three Taliban commanders told Reuters they had switched their strategy from targeting rural areas to attacking provincial towns in response to increasing US air strikes after the United States declared it would end its longest war.

An Afghan military spokesman said a state of emergency had been declared in Lashkar Gah this week and government forces would receive reinforcements and US air support. “Special forces have been deployed to the area. They are in good morale,” Armed Forces spokesman General Ajmal Omar Shinwari told Reuters.



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