Taliban assaults northern provincial capital

The Taliban entered Qala-i-Naw, the provincial capital of Badghis, stormed the city’s prison and freed inmates, and briefly seized control of the governor’s office and the police and National Directorate of Security headquarters. Today’s assault on Qala-i-Naw is the latest in the Taliban’s northern offensive designed to undercut the Afghan government’s traditional base of power.

Badghis province is one of several northern provinces that are on the cusp of completely falling under the Taliban’s control. The Taliban Now controls six of the Badghis’ seven districts after Qadis fell to the Taliban on July 6. The outlook is equally dire in nearby Badakhshan, where the Taliban controls 26 of 28 districts, Takhar (Taliban controls 14 of 17 districts), and Kunduz (Taliban controls 3 of 7 districts, but the remaining 4 are hotly contested and frequently exchange hands). The Taliban directly threatens all four provincial capitals and has launched incursions into each of them.

The fighting inside Qala-i-Naw is fluid, however it appears that the Taliban has since been driven to the outskirts of the city. Afghan Special Forces led by Governor Shamsudin beat back the Taliban from “the governor’s office and house,” while fighting inside the city is ongoing. according to Bilal Sarwary.

The Taliban massed outside of the city and then attacked it “from 3 direction,” according to Sarwary. There was “a mass surrender of senior police leadership,” which included “the deputy police chief for Badghis, the head of security of the police HQ, [and the] police chief for PD1 [Police District 1].” The governor of Ab Kamari district, a militia commander, and “at least 100 members of ANDSF” also surrendered.

In addition to taking control of the governor’s office, the Taliban briefly seized the main police and NDS headquarter, and freed approximately 200 prisoners from the city’s jail before the governor counterattacked. Afghan Special Forces had to lead the fight as the police and local military and militia units either surrendered, fled, or are essentially combat ineffective.

The Afghan government currently holds Qala-i-Naw, but the Taliban incursion will have lasting effects. The city is surrounded and residents and government officials will have to decide whether to fight to defend the city or acquiesce to the Taliban, as has happened elsewhere in numerous districts throughout the country since President Biden announced U.S. forces would leave the country by Sept. 11, 2021.

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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