— -- The Afghan government claims that its military forces have retaken the northern city of Kunduz that was seized by hundreds of Taliban fighters on Monday. A large Afghan force, supported by American airstrikes, retook the city in a bloody fight that the Afghan military says killed 150 Taliban fighters and injured 90. It is expected that Taliban fighters outside the city could soon launch a new offensive against Afghan military forces.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced Thursday that Afghan military forces had retaken Kunduz following a six-hour assault on hundreds of Taliban fighters.
“We thank God we had no fatalities," Ghani claimed as he praised Afghan security forces who “were able to foil one of the most significant operations to have taken place in Afghanistan in fourteen years.”
American officials had acknowledged that the Taliban’s takeover of Kunduz was a setback for Afghan security forces that have received U.S. and NATO training for more than a decade.
A U.S. official told ABC News that while Kunduz is back in the hands of the Afghan military, the city will likely remain contested as the Taliban has massed forces outside the city in an attempt to retake it.
Appearing alongside Ghani, Afghan Interior Minister Noor-ul-Haq Ulumi praised the performance of Afghan security forces.
"We never took our eyes off the ball," he said. "We had to protect citizens and so the security forces retreated."
The Afghan counteroffensive was supported by American and coalition special forces.
A U.S. military spokesman in Kabul confirmed that American military aircraft conducted as many as five airstrikes “to eliminate threats to coalition and Afghan forces.”
The U.S. still has 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, serving as part of a training mission that will conclude by the end of next year. After that planned draw down the only U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would involve several hundred personnel at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
The Taliban takeover of Kunduz has raised concerns that the Afghan security forces may not be ready to fend off expected Taliban offensives once American troops leave at the end of next year.
U.S. officials confirm that General John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has prepared troop level options that could keep a U.S. military force in Afghanistan beyond 2016.