Taliban overruns district in Afghan north

The Taliban took control of a district center in the northern Afghan province of Jawzjan over the past 24 hours. The governor of Darzab, the district that fell to the Taliban, confirmed that Taliban fighters overran the district just one day after Islamic State fighters attacked the administrative complex.

According to a statement on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban “launched coordinated attacks on Darzab district center” and surrounding outposts in the early morning.

The Taliban claimed that “five defensive checkposts close to the district center surrendered, handing over all their weapons, equipment and vehicles whereas the district headquarters fell around late afternoon hours, resulting in more weapons and equipment being seized.”

Official reports of casualties during the fighting have not been disclosed. The Taliban said that 17 police and local militia fighters and three Taliban fighters were killed.

“The Taliban were currently in control of the district center’s building, police headquarters, and many other areas west of the district centre,” Pajhwok Afghan News reported, based on statements by Baz Mohammad, the acting district governor.

The Taliban attack took place less than a day after fighters loyal to the Islamic State attempted to seize Darzab’s district center. Afghan officials claimed that 20 Islamic State fighters and six security personnel were killed while repelling the attack, TOLONews reported.

The Taliban has conducted an effective insurgency in Jawzjan despite the fact that the province is far from its traditional strongholds in the south and east. Its presence in the province has forced the Afghan government to commit military resources that are needed in other provinces. In late March, the Taliban claimed that it contested seven of Jawzjan’s 11 districts.

Darzab is the latest district to fall to the Taliban. In late May, the Taliban took control of Waghaz in Ghazni, and openly paraded its fighters without fear of reprisal from Afghan or Coalition aircraft.

Afghan forces have ceded control of some rural districts to the Taliban, excusing the districts as strategically unimportant. The Taliban has instead used these districts as bases to attack Afghan forces in more populous districts. The US military estimates that the Taliban now controls or contests 40 percent of Afghanistan’s districts, while the Taliban claims the number is closer to 50 percent.

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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  • Mark Adkins says:

    Thanks for this, most informative.

    I know that it’s difficult to get reliable details on such incidents, especially so quickly, but personally I would take an interest in the tactical details.

    How many fighters on both sides were involved? Did the Taliban bring overwhelming force to bear? Did they attack all of these targets at once (“coordinated attacks”) or overwhelm each outpost before proceeding to others? How were the outposts assaulted, and did they give up without a fight or quickly; and if so, why?

    Perhaps such matters are beyond the focus of Long War Journal or unavailable. If you have a link to a USG military study of Taliban tactics, that would be appreciated.

  • kimball says:

    Taliban taliban, I doubt there are any TALIBANS, it is all about HEROIN!

  • irebukeu says:

    You would be amazed at the lack of actual violence used in flipping districts and the amount of personal connections-meaning grievances and enmities 30 years long or more, charisma and tribal affiliations that are involved. The one thing to remember is Afghans will temporarily put aside all of that for money. You will hear about sieges lasting months but with amazingly few killed and wounded. The killed are usually the outsider to the particular region or valley they were killed in. To flip it back costs lots of money. But who will pay for that endless game? Now ask that same question again but this time stand in front of a mirror.
    Every three questions you have will lead to two answers and 5 more questions. The information just doesn’t seem to be around anywhere in any great detail but please post anything you can uncover to share with us.


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