Afghan security forces have withdrawn from a number of military bases and police checkpoints throughout the country, allowing for the Taliban to easily walk in and expand areas it controls and contests throughout the country.
Nearly forty percent of the police checkpoints have been shut down and policemen have been relocated elsewhere, the Ministry of the Interior confirmed.
“We have reduced the presence of police in more than 6,000 checkpoints to 113 bases and 3,700 checkpoints—the move was aimed to reduce the role of police in war and instead to transfer the war responsibilities to the Ministry of Defense,” Massoud Andarabi, the Minister of the Interior said, according to TOLONews.
The Afghan military has not stepped in to make up for the withdrawal of police forces in this rapidly deteriorating security situation.
The Taliban is now manning checkpoints on the Kunduz – Takhar highway, as well as the Pul-i-Khumri – Mazar-i-Sharif highways, TOLONews reported.
The Afghan military confirmed that a military base in Bala Murghab was abandoned “to avoid threats” from the Taliban. The district center fell to the Taliban on May 27, 2019, and the Taliban has had effective control of the district since then. Afghan military forces have been besieged at the base.
In a statement published on the Taliban’s Pashto-language version of Voice of Jihad, the group said it was “the last base of Kabul administration” in the district. Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid released a video from the vacated base in Bala Murghab.
The Taliban has remained on the offensive all across Afghanistan despite signing a so-called peace deal with the U.S. on Feb. 29, 2020.
U.S. officials have maintained that the agreement calls for the Taliban to “reduce violence,” however there is no explicit mention of that whatsoever in the short, four-page document.
Instead, violence across Afghanistan has increased in the wake of the agreement.
The Taliban has been clear that it will not share power with the Afghan government. In the Taliban’s eyes, the only acceptable outcome to the decades-long conflict is the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with its emir, Mullah Habitulah Akhundzada as the leader. To further this goal, the Taliban has pressed its military offensive against the Afghan government and security forces.
The Taliban has effectively seized control of most of the districts surrounding the provincial capitals of Baghlan (Pul-i-Khumri), Helmand Lashkar Gah), Kandahar (Kandahar City), Kunduz (Kunduz City), and Uruzgan (Tarin Kot), according to The New York Times.
Over the past five years, the Taliban has seized control of Kunduz City (twice), Farah City, and Ghazni City for short periods of time. FDD’s Long War Journal assesses that Farah City, Ghazni City and Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak province, are under direct Taliban threat.