Early Friday morning Taliban fighters attempted to storm a major Afghan military base in southern Afghanistan that houses Afghan forces and U.S. Marine advisers, according to military officials.
U.S. forces assisted Afghan troops in beating back the Taliban assault with air support, according to Resolute Support.
There were no reported U.S. or coalition casualties, but the Washington Post reported that the death toll for Afghan security forces could be as high as 20.
“This morning an ANDSF base [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces], Camp Shorabak in Helmand, was attacked by the Taliban,” said Army Lt. Ubon Mendie, a spokesman for Resolute Support. “The separate adjoining U.S. base has its own security perimeter, which never came under serious threat.”
A small group of Marines with Task Force Southwest now have MQ-9 Reaper support organic to the unit.
“The Afghan flag still flies over Camp Shorabak; the Taliban attackers are dead,” Mendie said in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times.
Camp Shorabak, located in the volatile Helmand province, is home to the Afghan army’s 215th Corps and includes an adjoining American garrison of a couple hundred Marine advisers with Task Force Southwest.
The attack comes as the Taliban and U.S. negotiators in Qatar continue to push toward a deal to end the 17-year conflict.
On Wednesday, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation and lead envoy for the talks with the Taliban, took to Twitter to announce that discussions with the Taliban would continue Saturday, following several days of productive discussions in Doha, Qatar.
The New York Times reported that the Pentagon is floating a peace proposal that could see the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan over a three to five-year period.
The plan would have American forces largely relegated to counterterrorism missions while European and NATO allies carry the responsibility for training and advising Afghan forces, according to the Times.
The U.S. is seeking assurances from the Taliban that it will not allow terrorist groups to use Afghan soil to attack America — a draft framework agreed to by the Taliban in January, according to BBC News.
The attack against the large Afghan army base in southern Afghanistan is not the first time the Taliban have attempted to assault the sprawling military base.
In 2012, 15 Taliban militants breached Camp Bastion, which at the time housed thousands of British troops as well as U.S Marines. The base included the adjoining Camp Leatherneck and the Afghan base known as Shorabak.
Taliban fighters managed to destroy six Marine Harrier jets during the attacks and killed Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, the former commander of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211.
Raible was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for leading a counter attack. A Marine F-35B with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit bore Raible’s name as it carried out the first ever F-35 combat strikes in Afghanistan in September 2018.
While Task Force Southwest has aided Afghan forces in regaining territory and Helmand and expanding the security bubble around the province’s capital of Lashkar Gah, much of Helmand is still under Taliban control.
Taliban fighters are known to operate near the Shorabak military base. During the past several years the base has taken mortar and indirect fire.
In late fall 2018, Marine Corps Times was told that Task Force Southwest’s security had been strengthened with the Land-based Phalanx Weapons System, which can shoot down indirect fire or mortars.