Violence Grows in Northern Afghanistan, but Neither Side Is Gaining Much Ground Express News

MAZAR I SHARIF, Afghanistan — Violence in northern Afghanistan has intensified in recent days, with both Afghan security forces and the Taliban suffering heavy casualties, but the heavy fighting has failed to shift the battle lines.

While many previous winters in the 17-year-old war brought a relative lull to the fighting, as low temperatures and snow set in, this year the fighting has continued amid stalled efforts to persuade the Taliban to sit down for talks with the Afghan government.

Despite meeting repeatedly with American diplomats to discuss the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and the release of their prisoners, the insurgents have refused to meet Afghan peace negotiators.

Instead, the Taliban have carried out deadly attacks in Balkh Province, a commercial hub in the north that had long remained one of the safest parts of the country, and in several neighboring provinces.

“The Taliban, with help of Russia and Pakistan, are trying to get more territory and to be in a stronger position in the war so they can get more in a peace deal,” Mr. Ghoryani said.

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