Taliban threatens Sar-i-Pul City, captures district in Jawzjan

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.

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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  • Nick Mastrovito says:

    I don’t understand why we don’t raise and train local security forces. Put all the dollars that went to the ANA into local forces under local commanders and use ANASOC as the QRF. Seems foolhardy to have undermanned ANA outposts with no supply chain and insufficient quick-reaction forces or air power to overcome the Taliban. I also don’t understand why the GOA doesn’t prosecute an offensive war against the Taliban. We know where the rats are, why aren’t we putting put rat bait to kill them?

  • Passer by says:

    Lots of taliban activity and base/area take overs was reported during the last 48 hours by their media.

  • Murad Badshah says:

    Another provincial capital to fall. I think Taliban should focus on taking far flung and less known provincial capitals before moving to capture major cities like Kandahar, Ghazni, Mazar etc. As Afghan government is acting on American advice to protect large and major cities, it is the best thing to do. This will not only discredit Afghan government but also enable Taliban to openly implement their system and administer their government.
    Thank you America for the experience you lent to Taliban.

  • Erwin Wagner says:

    Because locals in rural areas always side with Taliban. They understand ISAF will go home in the future and then Taliban will come knocking on their doors. They are not wrong.

  • Sid Finster says:

    Naive, you are. Give the locals security forces more arms and training and you’ll end up doing is arming and training the Taliban.

  • James says:

    “It is not entirely surprising, then, that a nationwide poll in 2015 found that 92 percent of Afghans supported the Kabul government and only four percent favored the Taliban, a conclusion that has been consistent over roughly a decade of polling. In the same poll, most Afghans also rejected the notion that the Taliban had become more moderate.”

    “According to an Asia Foundation poll, roughly 93 percent of Afghans say they are fearful of encountering the Taliban because of its extremist views and brutality.”

    (Source: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2018-01-03/why-taliban-isnt-winning-afghanistan.)


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