Taliban seizes 2 more districts in Afghan north

Map detailing Taliban controlled or contested districts. Click colored district for information. Based on an analysis by The Long War Journal, 31 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts are under Taliban control, and another 37 districts are contested. Map created by Bill Roggio, Caleb Weiss, and Patrick Megahan.

The Taliban overran two more districts in northern Afghanistan, this time in the province of Faryab, where the jihadist group made a push to seize the capital just last weekend.

The Taliban said it seized control of the districts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot in two separate statements that were released on Voice of Jihad, the group’s official propaganda outlet.

“Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate have managed to completely liberated [sic] Khwaja Musa district [Pashtun Kot] administration center, police HQ building and all the surrounding areas during a large scale operation,” the first statement said. “14 enemy check posts were overrun, forcing the enemy to flee while leaving behind 4 dead bodies and 2 APC wreckages.”

The Taliban later stated that it “liberated [the] Garzewan administration center, police HQ building and all the surrounding buildings around 05:30 pm local time today” after launching an offensive yesterday.

The Taliban’s claims were largely confirmed in Afghan press reports. Pajhwok Afghan News reported yesterday that the attack in Garziwan was executed by “hundreds of Taliban fighters, led by Mullah Shoib, Mullah Ahmad Shah, Qari Jailan and a Pakistani Sheikh,” and the Taliban advanced to within 4 kilometers of the district center as Afghan political leaders fled.

By today, “Taliban fighters captured more parts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot districts” while “security personnel said they had tactically vacated the areas,” Pajhwok reported.

The fall of the districts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot took place just one week after 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 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 current status of Kunduz city is unclear; the Afghan military and government have claimed to have cleared it several times, only to see the Taliban reenter and raise its white flag over the city center.

While fighting for control of the provincial capital of Kunduz, the Taliban launched a wider offensive in the Afghan north aimed at seizing control of districts in five provinces: Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Kunduz, and Takhar. Since Sept. 28, the jihadist group has taken control of 11 districts in these five provinces and another in the western province of Farah.

The Taliban has made a concerted effort to regain control of territory since the US and NATO ended its combat mission in Afghanistan and switched to an “advise and assist” mission. According to a study by The Long War Journal, 31 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts are under Taliban control, and another 36 districts are contested. 331 districts are either under government control, or their status cannot be determined based on open source information.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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5 Comments

  • anan says:

    “The current status of Kunduz city is unclear”
    Respectfully, the current status of Kunduz city is clear. The ANSF hold it. They control all points of entry and exit. A few Taliban fighters are trapped in the city, trying to hide from security forces in civilian homes because they can’t run away from the city. They lack the numbers and capability to contest “control” and are being rounded up by night raids on civilian homes. Suspect that much of the ANA and ANASF/Commandos in Kunduz city are in the process of redeploying to other theaters as they should.

    Most of the districts you list as fallen are locations that the ANSF redeployed from to reinforce Kunduz. There appears to be a major conventional fight underway in Badakhshan with ANSF reinforcements being set to Badakhshan.

    It is unclear what the ANSF currently near Kunduz city will now focus on. The ANSF have cleared the road between Baghlan and Kunduz. The Taliban were beaten by the ANSF in Maimana. Suspect the ANSF will clear Taliban strongholds near the Baghlan/Kunduz highway.

    Will they now focus on the Mazar/Kunduz road? Remaining Taliban strongholds near Kunduz city? Northern Kunduz? Faryab? Takhar?

    A lot of ANSF from Northern Helmand redeployed to Kunduz city. Do some of the ANSF in Kunduz return to northern Helmand?

    General Campbell mentioned that the Taliban redeployed a lot of forces from the South and East for the Kunduz operation. Gen Campbell believes this provides the ANSF the opportunity to make tactical gains in the East and South in the remaining fall weeks.

    • Arjuna says:

      Good questions. Even better information. This is why we read LWJ. Best OSINT available on the GWOT, IMHO.

  • Arjuna says:

    Another one bites the dust. Another one bites the dust. And another one’s gone, and another one’s gone, another one bites the dust…
    The ISI own the Afghan Taliban. This whole campaign is being managed from PK. I agree with Amanullah Saleh (NDS) who believes that Mullah Mansour is definitely in Islamabad. He says no way the Talibs are planning these advances on their own or planning them from AFG.

    If we don’t get the ISI onside, we will never have peace in AfPak. If we don’t acknowledge the ISI as the duplicitous obstacle to peace in Afghanistan which they most certainly are, we delude ourselves and we prolong the misery of the Afghan people. AfPak is becoming just another ignored sucking chest wound in the AO of life. Thanks ISI!

  • Ramrahim says:

    Dear Bill
    Great update especially the map. Can you also put additional information in the interactive windows like name of Taliban and local leadership from NUG side (governor and police chief) . Always admired you work. Thanks

  • gul says:

    Suggest using Afghan media (including private channels and TB sources) to update the situation. For instance a lot has been happening in the east, northeast, which is not captured.

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