Taliban Presses Offensive in Multiple Provinces
The Taliban is sustaining offensive operations throughout Afghanistan as Afghan security forces, backed by US airpower and special forces, continue to struggle with containing the jihadist group.
As the Taliban continues to press Afghan forces in the southern province of Helmand and has effectively laid siege to its capital, Lashkar Gah, the group is assaulting districts in the Afghan north. One district in Baghlan has fell under Taliban control, and another in Nuristan has changed hands several several times
The Taliban claimed yesterday that Dahana-i-Ghuri district in Baghlan province fell “after a three-day long siege,” according to a statement released on Voice of Jihad. “Mujahideen have seized a large number of the combat posts and 4 bases, leaving dozens of the enemy soldiers dead and wounded over the last three days. Similarly, 33 puppets including soldiers of ANA [Afghan National Army], Arbakis [local militias] and police have been taken prisoner through this period of time.”
In the same statement, the Taliban also claimed to seize “control of the district of Want Waygal and 11 combat posts” in Nuristan province.
A member of the provincial capital of Baghlan confirmed that Dahana-i-Ghuri is under Taliban control, Khaama Press reported. Afghan officials claimed to have repelled the Taliban attack, which was supported by “Arabs, and other foreign insurgents,” Pajhwok Afghan News reported. The “Arabs” and “other foreign insurgents” is likely a reference to al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Pakistan. The Haqqani Network, which is closely allied to al Qaeda, operates in Jani Khel and Paktia.
In addition to the fighting in the north, the district of Jani Khel in Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan is “on the verge of collapse,” TOLONews reported. “The clashes are still ongoing two kilometers from the center of Janikhel. If supporting troops are not sent into Janikhel as soon as possible, the district will fall into the hands of the Taliban,” the district governor told the Afghan news agency on Aug. 10.
In western Afghanistan, the Taliban laid siege to Pusht Rod district in Farah province, according to reports from Afghanistan.
To the south in Helmand, the Taliban took control of large areas of Nawa-I-Barakzayi district, which borders the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, over the past week and assaulted the district center. Heavy fighting has also been reported in Garmsir district to the south. The Taliban briefly took control of the bazaar in Garmsir but were later repelled by Afghan forces, according to TOLONews.
The Taliban currently controls or contests at least 84 of Afghanistan’s 400 plus districts, according to a study by The Long War Journal: with 40 estimated to be Taliban controlled and 44 contested. The number of controlled and contested districts is likely to be higher as reports from some districts known to be Taliban strongholds are unavailable. The Long War Journal only tallies districts that can be confirmed with independent reporting.
As the Taliban presses its nationwide offensive, it continues to reconcile with wayward groups that broke away after the controversy surrounding the death of Mullah Omar. Last week, leaders from the Mullah Dadullah Front as well as Mullah Baz Mohammad have returned to the Taliban fold, further strengthening the group and its ability to sustain its offensive.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.