The Taliban continues to drive Afghan security forces from districts throughout Afghanistan and has entered a northern city as Afghan forces are either surrendering or withdrawing from key administrative centers and security outposts. Sixteen districts in 9 provinces have fallen under Taliban control between June 18 and June 20, while Taliban forces have entered Kunduz City.
The Afghan military has so far been able to halt the onslaught, particularly in the north, where the Taliban has the momentum and is dictating the pace of the fighting. Afghan military and police units are either abandoning the district centers, and in some cases military bases, or are surrendering them to the Taliban. Afghan forces have only been able to retake control of three districts since May 1.
The Taliban's offensive in the north is especially troubling, as these provinces are home to many important Afghan government power brokers. If northern provincial capitals remain under Taliban threat and entire provinces are left in danger of falling to the Taliban, the Afghan government will be forced to redeploy forces from the south and east, or risk losing large regions in the north.
In Kunduz province, the Taliban "seized the [Kunduz City's] entrance before dispersing throughout its neighborhoods," while fighting has been reported throughout the city, The New York Times reported. The Taliban overran Kunduz City in 2015 and 2016, and held it for a short period of time, before U.S. airpower and special forces played a key role in helping the Afghan military eject the Taliban from the city. This weekend, Taliban also captured the district of Dasht-i-Archi in Kunduz province.
In one northern province, Takhar, the Taliban seized 8 districts – Baharak, Bangi, Chal, Hazar Somch, Khwaja Bahawuddin, Khuwaja Ghar, Namak Ab, and Yangi Qala – over the course of two days. Fighting has been reported outside of Taloqan, Takhar's provincial capital, as well as Maimana, the capital of the troubled Faryab province.
#AFG Sporadic gunfire and sometimes heavy fighting at the western gate of Taloqan city,capital of Takhar province in NE Afghanistan.There are also reports of fighting on the edge of Maimana city, after the fall of several strategic districts in Faryab in last few weeks.
In Takhar's district of Baharak, "Around 110 members of police, army & members of local uprisings surrendered to the Taliban" after being surrounded for three days, Bilal Sawary, an independent Afghan journalist reported. The Taliban executed the district head of the National Directorate of Security, which is hated by the Taliban, and the "commander of local uprisings," or tribal fighters that organize to fight the jihadists. In Khwaja Bahauddin district, the Taliban overran "a large base and all its facilities," according to Tariq Ghazniwal, a local Afghan journalist.
Also in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban took control of Chahar Bolak district in Balkh province, Dahan-e-Ghori in Baghlan province, Dara-e-Suf Bala in Samangan province, and Faizabad and Khanaqa in Jawzjan province.
In eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban seized Kharwar in Logar province, and in the southwest, the Taliban took Khash Rod in Nimroz.
The Taliban has seized control of more than 50 districts since the U.S. announced in mid-April it would withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021. The U.S. military is no longer providing air support for Afghan forces as it focuses its efforts on withdrawing from the country. Many of the districts that have been taken by the Taliban were previously contested, however, a handful of the districts were previously under Afghan government control (including three districts this weekend).
The Taliban currently controls 118 of Afghanistan's 407 districts, while 190 districts are contested, according to FDD's Long War Journal study of the security situation in Afghanistan [See Mapping Taliban Contested and Controlled Districts in Afghanistan].
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.
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Tags: Afghanistan, Contested, Control, Taliban