Taliban seizes a district in Uruzgan

The Taliban took control of a district center in the central Afghan province of Uruzgan after several days of fighting Afghan forces who are reported to have been supported by US forces.

The Taliban said it overran the “police HQ [headquarters] and other installations” at Char Chino and “dismantled” the “district administration center and other buildings.” The jihadist group made the claim on its official propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.

According to the Taliban, it launched the attack yesterday morning and killed 35 “puppets,” or Afghan police and military personnel. The Taliban claimed it destroyed two armored personnel carriers and 7 Ford Ranger pickup trucks. Four Taliban fighters were killed during the assault, the group claimed.

The fall of Char Chino was confirmed by Stars & Stripes, which reported that “the international coalition was providing support to government forces” during the fighting.

However, the spokesman for Uruzgan province claimed that the governor’s office was still under Afghan forces’ control and security forces withdrew from the police headquarters in a “tactical move,” Stars and Stripes reported.

The Taliban currently control 39 districts in Afghanistan and contest another 43, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Districts under Taliban control are being administered by the group, or it controls the district center. Typically the Taliban controls all of the areas of a district except the administrative center in contested districts. The Taliban likely controls or contests more districts displayed on the map above, however the districts listed on the map are ones that can be confirmed via independent sources such as Taliban claims, government reports, and news reports.

In Uruzgan, the Taliban contest five districts and control one more (Char Chino).

Fighting in the provinces has intensified over the past month. Just prior to taking Char Chino, the Taliban killed 11 Afghan soldiers and captured 12 others in the district of Dehrawood on June 7. And on May 31, the Taliban overran 11 police checkposts in Gizab district.

The Taliban considers Uruzgan to be a strategic district, and has previously said that it controls all areas of the province except for the district centers.

In a Voice of Jihad interview in April 2016 with Mullah Aminullah Yousuf, the Taliban’s shadow governor for Uruzgan, he described the province as “the linking point for many provinces” and a traditional “strong fortress of mujahideen.”

“The enemy thinks that if the province fell into the mujahideen’s hands, recapturing it back would be very hard,” Yousef said.

Yousef explained that US, Dutch, and Australian forces committed significant resources to secure Uruzgan and stand up to the police and Arbakis, or local militias. But the Taliban continued to fight in the province and gained grounds after Coalition forces withdrew.

“[I]n the course of last year, with the exception of district headquarters, all villages, suburbs, and valleys slipped away from enemy hands,” Yousef claimed in April.

Yousef said the Taliban would continue to pursue gaining control of the district centers, and predicted that the loss of all five districts would be a serious problem for the Afghan government.

“If … the mujahideen capture the headquarters of districts as we expect and have plans for, then provincial headquarters will not be able to resist. It would be a big blow to the enemy, and the enemy would leave the area,” he stated.

Now one of Uruzgan’s five district centers is controlled by the Taliban.

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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2 Comments

  • Mike Smith says:

    It’s a pretty stretched definition of “contested” that government forces are holed up in a little fort about 50 meters x 50 meters square in the district capital, and never leave it, and the Taliban controls the remaining 99.9999999999999999999999999 percent of the land in that district. My dog has three hairs on its tail that look like Labrador Retriever hairs, does that make him a Labrador Retriever?

    • Bill Roggio says:

      We are in a lose-lose situation trying to assess this. If we go the other way, we are told I’m overestimating Taliban strength, etc. (And it happens all the time).

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