Taliban terrorists have launched an attack on an Afghan provincial capital and heavy fighting is under way as security forces try to beat them back, with terrified residents cowering in their homes amid explosions and gunfire.
The US military's Resolute Support mission said it had deployed attack helicopters and a drone to help repel the Taliban from Ghazni, which has about 150,000 residents.
USA warplanes, drones, and helicopters came to the aid of the Afghan forces before they managed to repulse the Taliban assault.
Officials said Afghan special forces were also being deployed to the southeastern city of Ghazni after the latest attempt by the Taliban to capture an urban centre, with the assault coming as pressure builds on the insurgents to enter peace talks.
After the assault, police conducted house-to-house searches to discover how the Taliban managed to infiltrate deep into the city, which is 120km south of Kabul.
The militants took control of parts of the city before being pushed back to the outskirts, officials said.
The Taliban issued a statement claiming to have captured "most of the government buildings inside the city", and claiming to have killed and wounded 140 security forces.
Mashal said there were more than 100 other casualties but he could not give a breakdown of the dead and wounded.
A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties in the onslaught, and confirmed the airstrikes.
Several bodies of dead Taliban fighters remained on the street after government forced pushed the insurgents from Ghazni, the police chief said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said parts of the city had been seized by the Taliban and many people were killed.
Civilian houses and army checkpoints came under mortar attack and the bodies of dozens of Taliban fighters were in the streets, provincial governor spokesman Arif Noori said.
"Initial reports indicate minimal Afghan security force casualties", the U.S. spokesman told AFP, adding that American forces deployed attack helicopters and conducted a drone strike in the response. "In addition, US aircraft conducted a show of presence", Lt. Col. Martin L. O'Donnell, a spokesman for USA forces in Afghanistan, told TOLOnews.
Residents who spoke to Agence France-Presse (AFP) said power has been cut to the area since fighting erupted, with heavy gunfire ringing out across the city and a government building set on fire.
The attack on Ghazni followed a similar assault on Farah in May, when insurgents came close to overrunning the city in western Afghanistan. However, some residents reported that sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city by mid-morning.
The Taliban have stepped up attacks across the country since North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the United States formally ended their combat mission in 2014, and have seized control of several districts.
Pompeo also said the role of foreign forces in Afghanistan would be on the table.