Another Afghan district falls to the Taliban

Map detailing Taliban controlled or contested districts. Click colored district for information. Based on an analysis by The Long War Journal, 36 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts are under Taliban control, and another 35 districts are contested. Map created by Bill Roggio, Caleb Weiss, and Patrick Megahan.

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).

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Arjuna says:

    Looks like the ISI is on the ground in AFG helping train the Taliban to kill Americans. For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention the last fourteen years, America is at war with Pakistan in Afghanistan. And Pakistan is winning. That’s why we have to stay there.
    “…some U.S. analysts assessed that the strike had been justified and concluded the Pakistani, believed to have been with the ISI, had been killed.”
    Don’t you dare hide in hospitals, Mr ISI! That’s a war crime.

  • Douglas Elwell says:

    I am told, by someone who served in Ghormach, that the “military base” to which the government forces have retreated is located in a low-lying area that is surrounded by highlands which are now controlled by the Taliban. One is left to only shake his or her head in frustrated disbelief.

  • paul d says:

    who is funding the insurgency? Pakistan?

  • Arjuna says:

    Not exactly. The Pakistanis are too cheap to help the Talimonsters they created. Have you ever tried getting money from a Pakistani? Haha. You will grow old before the funds arrive. The Talimob are trained by the ISI, nurtured by the ISI, directed at their targets by the ISI, assisted in the field in AFG by the ISI, but def not paid much by them. For this, the Talibomb must resort to their tried and true methods of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, and robbery. The insurgency, sadly for Uncle Sam, is a self-funding racket for the most part. We need to break the lethal link with the ISI more than anything to eliminate this threat.

  • Dan Mulcahy says:

    To Whom it May Concern,

    Your map is misleading for two reasons. First, any assessment of black/red/amber/green is useless without establishing the size of any potential manifestation of insurgent forces. Second, it is by definition difficult to assess the size and pervasiveness of insurgent control and governance in the black districts because they don’t typically have Afghan government elements located therein.

    I served as the Senior Intelligence Mentor to the Afghan Ministry of Interior from May 2009 until Jun 2010. As such I directed the Afghan National Security Force intelligence assessment board with representatives from NTM-A, ISAF HQ, the Afghan MoD, MoI, National Directorate for Security, the Border Police, the Counter-terrorism Section and the UN’s NDSS. We created the first of these maps that showed black/red/amber/green as a security status for the Districts across Afghanistan. The point behind this evaluation was to determine how large a force the Taliban could muster on short notice to attack instruments of the Government, NGOs or elements of ISAF or OEF at any given moment. While an assessment of black did generally mean that there was no government presence in the District, there was no way to determine whether the size of the Taliban element, if any, that existed on the ground. Translated to security requirements, it meant that any Governmental or other security force would have to be prepared to deal with any contingent therein, typically from a company-seized element or larger. An assessment of red meant that the Taliban were capable of massing a platoon-sized element (roughly 30-45 people) with heavy weapons. An assessment of amber or yellow meant that the Taliban were capable of mustering a squad-sized element (10 – 12 people) with a heavy weapon or maybe two. And green meant that any activity conducted would be of the lone actor variety whereby any security incidents would be conducted by either and individual or two staged, typically staged from another province.

    The definitions are very important because as you see, in all but a black assessment, they merely indicate the level of Government control and refer more specifically to the size of any security contingent required to forward deploy operating elements in those Districts. Consequently, our assessments spoke to specific security concerns in terms of element size so that operations personnel could appropriately plan the security and reaction detail required to initiate or sustain operations in those areas.

    I am available at the included email to discuss in more detail should you require additional clarification.

    V/R Dan Mulcahy

  • Dan Mulcahy says:

    The insurgency is funded two ways. First, some money does flow into Afghanistan form Pakistan, but it is a pittance compared to how much money flows into Pakistan for insurgent activities. The second way is that many of the lower level groups are self-funded in order to buy weapons, ammunition and pay for “day workers”; those fighters simply hired to fight by the day or week but are otherwise uncommitted to the cause. A good bit of this funding comes from providing security to the drug trade in terms of crop and transportation protection.

  • Arjuna says:

    Good points. I infer from your wording they don’t handle the heroin trade themselves. Is that still true? They probably have some Gulf sponsors too; they do have a “political office” (whatever the heck that term implies under international law) in Qatar.

  • Dan Mulcahy says:

    Correct. They don’t grow and harvest the poppy themselves. At least not as of a couple years ago. The political office in Qatar is a for of Embassy for these guys. They can’t have an actual embassy because of the international stigma associated with the Taliban, so they have this.

    As far as what they actually do there…I don’t know.


  • Arjuna says:

    Tea boys and opium, probably.
    But thanks for the info.
    Taliban is a dirty word to me.
    Has been since Bamiyan.


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