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.