Taliban seizes another district in western Afghanistan

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 36 districts are contested. Map created by Bill Roggio, Caleb Weiss, and Patrick Megahan.

Updated to include report of Afghan military retaking the district center.

The Afghan Taliban claimed that it overran the district center of Ghoryan in the western province of Herat today. The jihadist group made the claim on Voice of Jihad, its official propaganda website:

Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate in Herat province launched coordinated attacks late afternoon hours today on Ghoryan district administration center and police HQ.

Officials say that heavy fighting is underway at the moment, more details about which will be updated later.

Update: Fresh reports arriving from Herat province say that Ghoryan district administration center, police HQ and all government buildings have been overrun by Mujahideen.

3 enemy vehicles have also been destroyed in the fighting while 2 motorbikes and sizable amount of equipment seized.

While the Taliban’s claim hasn’t been supported in the Afghan press, previous reports have proven accurate. Additionally, Afghan Islamic Press, which is at least sympathetic to the Taliban, also reported today that fighting was ongoing in Ghoryan. According to witnesses:

Taliban have entered the district center. A number of shops caught fire and the Taliban have set fire to at least one checkpoint in the district. The fighting is going on in the bazaar and there is no information about possible casualties.

Residents of Herat city said that the police chief [Gen Abdol Majid Rozi] and dozens of police personnel along with 20 vehicles have now been deployed to help government forces in the district.

A local commander, Mullah Nasim, is said to have led Taliban fighting in the district.

Ghoryan is the second district to fall to the Taliban in western Afghanistan in three days. On Oct. 18, the jihadist group claimed it overran Ghormach in Faryab. This was later confirmed by Afghan officials. The military launched an offensive to retake the district, Khaama Press reported today.

The Taliban now controls 36 districts and contests another 36, 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, seizing 13 districts in the north, west, and south.

Update on Oct. 21:

Herat’s police chief has confirmed the district fell to the Taliban, but said police have since retaken the district. Ghoryan is now considered contested. From Reuters:

The Taliban raised their flag in the main district center for a few hours before police reinforcements arrived and cleared them out, Herat police chief, General Abdul Majid Rozi said.

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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  • Dan Mulcahy says:

    Oh yes, and PS – Given that the number of Districts assessed as black remain under 10%, I think it’s important for perspective to understand that there are most likely about 10% of areas in New York City, Chicago, DC and LA where the police only enter with a heavily armed response team in the wings.

  • Yousf says:

    Your report is baseless, first of all Ghoryan District is in Herat not in Farah as you written in your report. second, Taliban attacked the Ghoryan District and they just managed to capture part of it for a short time before reinforcement arrived and they retreated without any resistance. I am a journalist and not supporting any side and our reports should be based on facts and reliable sources. Thanks

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Yousf, actually, the Afghan military admitted that the district center did indeed fall to the Taliban for a short time. I updated the report to note the Taliban retreated after Afghan forces arrived and made the district contested. I updated this morning as soon as I saw the press report from Reuters.

    Yes, I accidentally wrote that Ghoryan is Faryab and not Herat, that is a mistake that has since been fixed. We all make mistakes.

  • Ali says:

    As for as the retreat of taliban is concerned that didnot retreated because of the arrival of afghan forces took place, they do that to minimize civilians casualties which US, NATO and afghan forces do on the name of collateral damage, taliban do have the capability to resisit 4 times greater armoured came to ghoryan, they have proved by their past in konduz, ghormach, and musakala. few days back taliban resisted musakala which they have captured few days ago, 5 battalions from different provinces came and couldnot manage to gain control of musakala.. these are the facts others are just part of western propoganda..

  • BobbyD says:

    It would be helpful to know what is the definition of a district, at least the population that is affected by the temporary Taliban takeovers.

    Ali, perhaps the Taliban should stop launching operations from civilian centers such as hospitals. Secondly, if the Taliban want to minimize civilian casualties then they should stop trying to blend in with the population and wear military uniforms. Those are the facts and the rest of your post is just Taliban propaganda.


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