Even if the Afghan government keeps control of Ghazni - a provincial capital on the main highway leading to Kabul - the situation in the city of 270,000 was bleak, with civilians killed and injured in crossfire and bodies piling up in overwhelmed health facilities.
But people escaping the city have described widespread destruction and bloodshed and Afghanistan's largest television station, Tolo News, broadcast shaky phone footage showing fires apparently raging across the blacked-out center.
A spokesman for the USA military, Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, said the city "remains under Afghan government control, and the isolated and disparate Taliban forces remaining in the city do not pose a threat to its collapse, as some have claimed".
The provincial capital is located on the main highway linking northern and southern Afghan provinces, including the national capital of Kabul.
Local lawmaker Chaman Shah Ehtemadi told Reuters news agency: "Only the governor's office, police headquarters and intelligence agency's compound are in the hands of the government and Taliban are pushing to take them".
Since the Taliban attacked the city on Friday, its fighters have taken control of some areas and have tried to entrench themselves in defensive positions.
Col. Fared Mashal, the province's police chief, said the majority of the insurgents fighting in Ghazni are foreigners, including Pakistanis and Chechens.More news: Trump Signs Defense Spending Bill Giving 2.6% Pay Raise to US Troops
But the Taliban said they were in control of most of the city.
About 1,000 additional troops were sent to Ghazni, Bahrami said.
He did not offer a breakdown of the casualties but Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak says almost 70 policemen are among those killed.
Afghan officials said United States special forces units were on the ground helping to coordinate air strikes and ground operations and the USA military said American aircraft had launched two dozen air strikes since Friday.
The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, but have since then repeatedly come to the aid of Afghan forces as they struggle to combat the resurgent Taliban.
Insurgents infiltrated people's homes and slipped out into the night to attack Afghan forces.They also destroyed a telecommunications tower on the city's outskirts, cutting off all landline and cell phone links to the city and making it hard to confirm details of the fighting.
The U.N. expressed concern for the civilians caught up in the fighting.More news: Canada seeks help on Saudi row
"[Ghazni's residents] have seen their city turn into a battlefield since Friday morning. parties across the conflict need to ensure that access to medical services is not denied and respect for medical facilities and staff is upheld", he said in a statement. "We have received initial reports of a number of civilian casualties and of people trying to reach safe areas outside of the city", said Rik Peeperkorn, acting United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan. "President Ashraf Ghani must resign!" read a typical comment on Facebook.
The attack on Ghazni, the heaviest blow struck by the Taliban since they came close to overrunning the western city of Farah in May, has hit hopes of peace that sprouted after a surprise three-day truce during June's Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
The U.S. military continued to lend "support to the Afghan-led clearance operation", O'Donnell told CBS News Radio correspondent Cami McCormmick. The group will be making new gains if the USA keeps relying on force alone in Afghanistan, geopolitical analyst Ali Rizk told RT.
Ghazni's hospitals are running out of medicines and people are unable to safely bring casualties, Peeperkorn's statement added.
"They (Taliban) steal people's belongings". Electricity, water supply and food are also running low, it said.
Losing Ghazni to the Taliban would essentially cut Afghanistan in half, closing its second-busiest trade route.More news: Fight for city rages despite govt claim of upper hand