The Taliban overran the Kham Ab district center in Jawzjan province in the last 24 hours, and is threatening the provincial capital of Sar-i-Pul, as the group continues to pressure Afghan forces in the north.
The chief of police for Kham Ab confirmed that the Taliban overran the government buildings and took control of the district. During the assault, 10 security personnel were killed, seven were captured, and seven “uprising forces” or local militia defected to the Taliban, TOLONews reported. An estimated 50 security forces have been surrounded.
In Sar-i-Pul, the Taliban is threatening the provincial capital of Sar-i-Pul City after launching a three-pronged assault from the outlying districts last night. The provincial governor said the Taliban is less than 2 km from the city and that the capital could fall if reinforcements are not sent, TOLONews reported.
The Taliban closed the main highway between Sar-i-Pul and has reportedly also overrun a military base.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that his group’s fighters are battling outside of Sar-i-Pul City, and claimed that “tens of bases/CPs [checkpoints] overrun, dozens of gunmen killed/wounded (11 corpses left behind), 10 APCs/pickup trucks along with weapons/equipment seized.” Additionally, “Multiple CPs also overrun 5KM from provincial capital from direction of Sayyad [district].”
Sar-i-Pul is one of 10 provincial capitals under direct threat of being overrun by the Taliban. In May, the Afghan Ministry of Defense identified Farah City, Faizabad in Badakhshan, Ghazni City, Tarin Kot in Uruzgan, Kunduz City, Maimana in Faryab, and Pul-i-Khumri in Baghlan as being in danger of falling to the Taliban. The Taliban briefly overran Farah and Ghazni Cities in May and August, respectively. Also, the Taliban have been active in Lashkar Gah in Helmand, while Afghan officials are warning that Gardez in Paktia is threatened.
The Taliban has capitalized on its control of remote areas to pressure these provincial capitals. Afghan forces are often outmatched in Afghanistan rural areas, and are forced to abandon bases and outposts or risk being overrun by Taliban forces. The Taliban controls or contests at least 61 percent of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, according to an ongoing study by FDD’s Long War Journal.