NATO and Afghan forces have stepped up offensive operations in the southern provinces of Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan as the US Marines have provided additional manpower to target Taliban strongholds. Coalition forces hope to blunt the yearly “Taliban offensive.”
Data provided to The Long War Journal by Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan (VSSA) shows that the attacks by the Taliban and “Anti-Government Elements” such as Gulbaddin Hekmatyer’s Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin and other allied groups have increased over the past several weeks as the poppy harvest season has ended. The Taliban now has a pool of unemployed harvesters to serve as recruits.
Attacks in the southern region have more than tripled over the past four weeks, while attacks in the western region have doubled. The eastern, southeastern, and southern provinces bordering Pakistan still remain the most violent areas in Afghanistan. These regions collectively account for 77 percent of the violence in Afghanistan. NATO expects the attacks to increase as the Pakistani government sues for peace with the Taliban in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province.