The Taliban claimed to seize control of Ghorak district in Kandahar province on Nov. 19. The claim cannot be independently verified in the Afghan press or FDD’s Long War Journal, but the district has been hotly contested and overrun by the Taliban in the past.
From the Taliban statement released on Voice of Jihad:
A recent report arriving from Ghorak district of southern Kandahar province say that, enemy troops of the said district administration center and a military base were force to flee this noon with the help of a large military convoy and helicopters towards Maiwand district, giving the district center completely to Mujahideen.
According to details, the said district center was under tight besiege of Mujahideen for the past some time. Mujahideen are chasing the enemy in the area, a reinforcement truck has been destroyed while an APC was shred into pieces by an IED attack, inflecting heavy casualties on enemy.
It must be mentioned that at least 55 gunmen were killed and a sizeable amount of weapons were sized when 2 enemy bases and 2 posts were overrun in the said district some time ago.
The Taliban previously claimed to have taken control of Ghorak in mid-October 2015. Based on press reports, FDD’s Long War Journal had previously assessed Ghorak to be contested. As recently as Nov. 18, a report in Xinhua said that “security forces’ presence is slim” in the district. On Nov. 15, Afghan officials said that all schools in Ghorak were closed due to “security problems,” Zee News reported.
The security situation in Kandahar province has been difficult to assess. FDD’s Long War Journal estimated that three of Kandahar’s 15 districts are under Taliban control (Ghorak, Registan, Shorabak). Anecdotal press reports indicate that the districts of Arghistan, Khakrez, Maiwand, Shah Wali Kot, and Zhari are contested, but this cannot be confirmed.
Ghorak is situated along a belt of Taliban-controlled or contested districts in southern Afghanistan that spans the provinces of Farah, Helmand, Uruzgan and Kandahar. Ghorak borders Helmand province, where the Taliban controls six and contests seven of the 14 districts. Ghorak also borders Uruzgan, where the Taliban controls one and contests five of the six districts.
The Taliban has used this southern safe haven to directly threaten the capitals of Farah, Helmand, and Uruzgan. Afghan forces, backed by US advisers and airstrikes, have struggled to stave off Taliban offensives against the capitals of these three provinces.