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As a string of Taliban victories show Afghan government forces in disarray, a young general is advancing his reputation on the battlefield and on social media.

Provincial cities in the north have fallen like dominoes this week -- in some cases after government forces retreated or surrendered without a fight -- but in Lashkar Gah, a Taliban heartland, the army appears to be providing stiffer resistance.

Leading them is Sami Sadat, 36, the highest-ranking army officer in southern Afghanistan, in an intense fight in defence of a provincial capital the Taliban are desperate to seize.

And as the insurgents flood social media with images of surrendering Afghan soldiers and snap selfies with locals, the young general is also using Twitter and Facebook as a slick PR tool in the fight against the hardline islamists.

He and the 20,000 men under his command in the 215th Corps have garnered thousands of followers, with their Twitter accounts awash with images of the general among the troops, posing for selfies with young civilians, and meeting local shopkeepers.

On Wednesday the defence ministry tweeted he had been promoted to lead the country's special forces, an announcement widely applauded on the platform.

Sadat remains optimistic despite the Taliban's advances.

READ US finds Pakistan useful only to clean up mess in Afghanistan: PM

"Because I know we are going to win," he told AFP in a phone interview from the frontlines of Lashkar Gah.

"I know this is our country, that the Taliban are failing, that they will fail sooner or later."

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