The Afghan Taliban overran two district centers in the east while Afghan forces regained control of another which has changed hands several times over the past year.
Afghan officials confirmed that the district of Zana Khan in Ghazni was overrun, while the Taliban claimed to have seized Gomal in Paktika province. Afghan officials then said that security forces regained control of Jani Khel in Paktia, however the Taliban has denied that claim.
A member of Ghazni’s provincial council said that the Taliban killed four policeman and confiscated two “tanks” (likely up-armored HUMVEEs) and several Ranger pickup trucks after storming the Zana Khan district center. Taliabn spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that a Taliban force inflicted “multiple enemy casualties” and “lots of weapons/equipment seized” during the operation.
The Taliban claimed it “took over the center of the district of Gomal and its checkpoints in Paktika province during an intense fighting following an offensive last night.” While the Afghan press hasn’t reported on the status of Gomal, similar Taliban claims have proven highly accurate in the past.
In the neighboring province of Paktia, the Afghan military claimed it ousted the Taliban from the district of Jani Khel, which has alternated between government and Taliban control multiple times over the past year. The Taliban last overran the district two weeks ago and flaunted a large cache of weapons and ammunition taken from Afghan forces.
However, Taliban spokesman Mujahid claimed that Jani Khel is “under Mujahidin control” and the “enemy attack [was] repulsed.”
Over the past month, the Taliban has taken overrun eight districts centers. In addition to the three mentioned above, the Taliban has seized Khamab in Jawzjan, Ghormach and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab, Taiwara in Ghor and Guzargah in Baghlan. Afghan forces have since retaken Kohistan and Taiwara, however these districts remain contested.
The Taliban continues to demonstrate that it can conduct concurrent operations across the country, while Afghan forces largely remain on the defensive.