Three weeks ago, on Aug. 25, the Taliban claimed it overran the district center of Gomal in the eastern province of Paktika. Afghan officials denied the district center was overrun. However, the Taliban has recently released video to prove that Gomal was, in fact, under its control.
The video (reproduced above) was originally published by Ahmet Yar, an independent Afghan journalist. You can see Taliban fighters walking throughout the district center and numerous destroyed Afghan police vehicles.
It is unclear if, three weeks after Gomal was overrun, if the district center is still under Taliban control.
This incident highlights the extreme difficulties in attempting to discern the status of Afghan districts. Sadly, far more often than not, Taliban claims are far more credible than those of the Afghan government.
As I have noted in the past, the fact that the Taliban doesn’t claim to control important districts such as Panjwai and Zhari in Kandahar is a sign that the group appears to be presenting an accurate picture of what it controls or contests. Panjwai and Zhari are the birthplaces of the Taliban, and the Taliban has every incentive to claim some measure of control of these two key districts. Instead, the Taliban states that Panjwai and Zhari are completely under government control.