Taliban seizes eight districts in the past week

The Taliban has taken control of eight district centers in four different regions of Afghanistan over the past week as Afghan security forces struggle to maintain control of the security situation.

Eight districts in the north, south, southeast, west and center have fallen under Taliban control, while another district in the south is under effective Taliban control. The disbursed location of the Taliban attacks will force the already strained Afghan military to divide its forces if it wants to retake the districts.

In the north, the Taliban seized control of Du Ab and Mandawal (Mandol) districts in the rugged mountainous province of Nuristan. Afghan officials said in both cases the Afghan military and police units stationed at the district centers retreated from the Taliban advance. Afghan officials had previously admitted in February that Mandawal was under effective Taliban control as government officials were unable to administer the district due to the strong Taliban presence. Nuristan is a heavily contested province. Of its eight districts, two are Taliban controlled, four are contested, and two are government controlled, according to an ongoing study of the security situation in Afghanistan’s districts by FDD’s Long War Journal.

In the south, the district of Gizab in Uruzgan fell to the Taliban as government forces retreated from the district. The district has been highly contested and the Taliban has surrounded the district center for more than one year, and the Taliban briefly seized the district center in November 2020. Uruzgan province is teetering on falling to the Taliban. Of its five districts, three are Taliban controlled and two are contested. Tirin Kot, the provincial capital, is under direct Taliban threat.

Also in the south, the Taliban claimed it took control of the Washir district center. It was previously surrounded by the Taliban. While the Taliban claim has not been independently confirmed in either the Afghan or Western press, a U.S. military official told FDD’s Long War Journal that the Washir district center is indeed under Taliban control. However, Washir district is still assessed as contested as the Shorabak base continues to be under Afghan National Army control.

In the southeast, the Taliban took control of Dih Yak in Ghazni, and Shinkay in Zabul as Afghan security forces retreated from both districts. Dih Yak and Shinkay both have been under Taliban pressure for the past year. Both provinces are Taliban strongholds. The Taliban controls three of Zabul’s 11 districts, seven are contested, and only the provincial capital, Qalat, is under government control. In Ghazni, the Taliban controls 10 districts, the government controls one, and eight more are contested.

In the west, the Taliban seized Qaysar district in Faryab and claimed it took control of the district of Farsi. Qaysar fell after the Taliban besieged the district center, detonated a massive car bomb that killed the police chief and 13 security personnel, and captured 37 others. The Farsi claim has not been supported independently, however two U.S. military officials told FDD’s Long War Journal that Farsi is currently under Taliban control.

In central Afghanistan, the Taliban took control of Shahrak in Ghor province after Afghan forces fled. Before capturing the district center, the Taliban killed 10 security personnel and captured four more after detonating a car bomb at a security outpost.

The Afghan security forces have been under heavy pressure since the Taliban renewed its efforts to retake districts after the U.S. began its withdraw from Afghanistan in May. U.S. airpower is no longer assisting Afghan forces in repelling major Taliban attacks. The Taliban has stepped up pressure in all regions of the country, including in Laghman, Logar, and Wardak, three key provinces that border Kabul. The Taliban took control of Nirkh in Wardak and Dawlat Shah in Laghman in May, and Afghan forces have been unable to retake either district. In Baghlan, the Taliban seized control of Baghlani Jadid and Burka in early May. Baghlani Jadid is now contested after Afghan forces are fighting for the district, but Burka remains under Taliban control.

This article has been updated on June 7, 2021 to add Shahrak and Qaysar to the list of districts that have fallen to the Taliban in the past week.

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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