A senior Afghan official said that more than 80 percent of Helmand is Taliban controlled, and in many cases government forces are confined to district centers.
The Taliban continue to bring disaffected leaders back into the fold. Anwar ul Haq Mujahid, the commander of the Tora Bora Military Front and the son of an influential Taliban leader who was instrumental in welcoming Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan after al Qaeda was ejected from Sudan in 1996, has sworn allegiance to the Taliban’s new emir.
The Taliban is sustaining offensive operations through Afghanistan as Afghan security forces, backed by US airpower and special forces, continue to struggle with containing the jihadist group.
The Taliban continue to bring recalcitrant leaders back into the fold. The Dadullah family and commanders from the Mullah Dadullah Front, a jihadist faction with close ties to al Qaeda, rejoined the Taliban and swore allegiance to its emir, Mullah Haibatullah.
The US military claimed that Khan’s death and the operation in Nangarhar will hurt the group’s operations in Afghanistan. However the Islamic State’s inability to form alliances with the established jihadist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan has led to its isolation.
The presence of an al Qaeda camp in South Waziristan as late as 2013 contradicts claims by the Pakistani military that the tribal agency was secured after launching an offensive against the Movement of the Taliban and allied groups, including al Qaeda, in 2009.
Mullah Baz Mohammad, who served as a deputy to the leader of a rival breakaway faction, and a military commander in Uruzgan reunited with the Taliban and swore allegiance to its emir.
A light US footprint in Afghanistan has led to Taliban gains throughout the country. The Taliban has surrounded Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand.