On the evening of Oct. 2, the Taliban assaulted the district of Nawa in Helmand province and overran much of the district center after a suicide bomber killed the chief of police and others. Today, Resolute Support, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, claimed that Afghan forces “repelled” the Taliban “raid” and the district is under government control.
Nawa, Helmand is under government control. Taliban raid was repelled by early afternoon on 3 Oct.
— Resolute Support (@ResoluteSupport) October 4, 2016
However, press reports from Afghanistan indicate that the district is contested at best. The New York Times notes that “Afghan officials said their forces were trying to push back the Taliban from Nawa district,” while the Nawa district governor “who was in Lashkar Gah, said Afghan Army forces were still holed up in the district governor’s compound, which was surrounded by the Taliban.”
“Additional Afghan forces had arrived to try to break the siege, and they managed to recover the police chief’s body from the police headquarters,” the district governor claimed, according to the Times.
As noted in an earlier update on conflicting claims of the status of Kunduz City, Resolute Support appears to be putting the best possible spin on a bad situation in Afghanistan.
Resolute Support’s commander, General John Nicholson, has been downplaying the Taliban’s control of what he estimated as 10 percent of the population by stating that it wasn’t a major concern since that population is in Afghanistan’s rural regions. As the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Nicholson should understand that the Taliban seeks to control the rural areas of Afghanistan before taking the fight to the population centers. The Taliban is able to launch assaults on the provincial capitals of Kunduz, Helmand, and Uruzgan because it controls or heavily contests the surrounding rural districts.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.