Reports from the northwestern province of Faryab indicate that the Taliban has overrun yet another district in Afghanistan. Ghormach, a district that borders Turkmenistan, is now effectively under Taliban control, according to the jihadist group and the Afghan press.
The Taliban, via its official propaganda outlet, Voice of Jihad, released a statement claiming it has taken Ghormach and has laid siege to “the PRT building and nearby Tepa check post” after six days of fighting:
Reports arriving from Ghormach district of Badghis province [sic, see below] say that the district center was under a tight Mujahideen siege and attacks for the past 6 days.
Mujahideen mounted a large scale offensive on the enemy positions overnight, triggering clashes that lasted till early morning as a result the district admin center, bazaar, police HQ, municipality, intelligence building, Zanjir and all defensive check posts.
Officials say that the enemy has suffered deadly casualties in the fighting and lost 4 vehicles while an APC, pickup truck and a sizable amount of arms and ammunition have also been seized by the Mujahideen.
The enemy is currently under siege in the PRT building and nearby Tepa check post.
The fall of Ghormach was confirmed by TOLONews, which notes that remaining Afghan forces have retreated to a “military base.”
The district reportedly fell to the Taliban early Sunday after heavy clashes broke out with security forces, sources told TOLOnews.
A source said on condition of anonymity that the Taliban attacked Ghormach at about 2 am local time and took control of the district governor’s compound and the police headquarters after heavy clashes with security forces.
The source said that government employees have been moved to a military base in the district which is also now surrounded by insurgents.
The source said that “if the troops do not receive air support, the military base will also fall to the Taliban”.
However, the local security officials have not yet commented on the incident.
The fall of Ghormach took place just 10 Days after the Taliban seized the districts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot in Faryab; the Afghan government later claimed to have liberated Garziwan. On week prior, the Taliban attempted to seize control of Maimana, the provincial capital of Faryab. The two districts are on the outskirts of Maimana, and control access from the east.
The Taliban now controls 36 districts and contests another 35, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal (see maps by LWJ and The New York Times). The group has made a push to gain territory over the past several weeks and seized a dozen districts in the north, west, and south.
The situation in Faryab somewhat mirrors that of Kunduz, where the Taliban took control of several districts since it launched its offensive in the province in May. After months of fighting and several failed attempts to take the capital of Kunduz city, the jihadist group succeeded in doing so on Sept. 28. The Afghan military drove out the Taliban in a two-week counterattack.
Note: administrative control of Ghormach was shifted from Badghis to Faryab, the Afghan Analyst Network reported in 2012, hence the discrepancy with respect to the province between the Taliban and Afghan press reports:
Ghormach district was part of Badghis province but shifted to Faryab (and by that, to the northern zone) to bring it under the same ISAF and Afghan command that is fighting the northern insurgency. The district had already been one of the main insurgent districts during the Soviet occupation (1979-89).