The fighting in Farah underlines the continuing strength of the Taliban movement, which controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan, and has so far rejected peace overtures from President Ashraf Ghani.
"Within last 24 hours, 171 militants including six members of the Islamic State [IS terror group] were killed during military operations in 10 provinces", the ministry said in a daily bulletin.
Air strikes had killed 56 insurgent fighters, he said.
"There is no word on whether these people have been killed, wounded or escaped the area", he said.
Fared Bakhtawar, head of the provincial council, said that seven army commandos and eight police are among the dead. The victims are all members of a single family, he added.
So far no one claimed responsibility for the attack in Farah.
Years have passed since the time when, years into the war, US military and civilian officials heatedly debated "counterinsurgency" as contrasted with "counterterrorism", distinctions that now seem less than crucial. It is conceivable, and conceivably desirable, that US forces will be in Afghanistan, lending intelligence, logistical and even lethal support to that nation's military and security forces for another 1,000, perhaps 6,000, days.
Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Wazeri told RFE/RL on March 12 that Afghan forces had withdrawn from the center of Farah Province's Anardara district after hours of fighting against Taliban militants. Residents of Farah city have complained bitterly about security in the province, where some police units are alleged to collude with Taliban fighters, selling them weapons and ammunition. "There are casualties to the police, but we lost contact with them and we have no idea about their condition, including the police chief of the district". It came ahead of an expected increase in fighting with the end of winter and the approach of spring.