Taliban fighters have taken control of eight villages in Arghandab district in Afghanistan, and have said they plan to march towards Kandahar city.
About 500 fighters are said to be involved in the ongoing Taliban offensive, which got under way on Monday, Al Jazeera has learnt.
Arghandab district lies 30km north of Kandahar city.
Afghan and US-led forces in Afghanistan are said to be preparing to repulse the offensive.
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Kandahar, said that hundreds of Taliban fighters are taking up positions in the area and taking over nearby villages.
“Sources from the Afghan army say that unless they get support from the Afghan national and international coalition forces, they won’t be able to launch any counterattack,” he said.
“If Arghandab is taken over by the Taliban, it will mean a significant shift in power, and people are concerned that this will be a step forward for the Taliban towards Kandahar.”