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MOSCOW:
Afghanistan government forces plan a counteroffensive in the country's northern provinces after losing ground to the Taliban, Russia's RIA news agency cited an adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as saying on Monday.

National security adviser Hamdullah Mohib told RIA in an interview that government forces had not expected the Taliban offensive but would "absolutely, definitely" counterattack.

On Sunday, Afghan authorities claimed to have thwarted a Taliban attack on the Bagram Airfield recently vacated by US forces after 20 years of occupation.

According to Bagram district Governor Sheren Rufi, a group of 20 Taliban insurgents attacked the local police checkpoint near the airbase, with one policeman and one insurgent killed in the exchange of fire.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack from the Taliban.

Conceived during the Cold War, the Bagram Airfield saw the inception of the modern Afghan Air Force before serving as the main bastion for the invading Soviet army and later as the base of operations for the US in the war-ravaged country.

By vacating the sprawling facility overlooking Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan's historic town of Bagram, the US this week inched closer to ending its longest military engagement.

For their part, the Taliban hailed the withdrawal of US forces from the Bagram Airfield.

"We consider evacuation of all US forces from #Bagram a positive step & seek withdrawal of foreign forces from all parts of the country. Such is in the interest of both them & Afghans. Afghans can move closer to peace & security with complete withdrawal of foreign forces," the group said in a statement.

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