The Taliban has been operating prisons in Helmand for at least three years. Raids on Taliban prisons has done nothing to keep the group from expanding its control in Helmand.
The Red Unit, the Taliban’s version of special forces that operates throughout Afghanistan and is often at the tip of the spear of assaults on district centers, military bases and outposts, is said to have initiated the fighting in Dasht-i-Archi district. At least 30 Afghan soldiers were killed during the assault.
The deadly bombing is the first major attack executed by the Taliban group since Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud assumed command of the group in late June.
The Taliban reiterated that it views itself as the sole representative of the Afghan people, while those who fight for the Afghan government are “puppets” of the United States.
The Taliban described an upcoming conference of religious scholars that will be held in Saudi Arabia later this week as illegitimate and urged Islamic clerics to boycott the meeting.
The Pentagon and the US intelligence community have been consistently wrong about al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan, and evidence of strategic ties between the two groups does indeed exist.
The Taliban continues to state that it and only it is the true representative of the Afghan people. This is at odds with the opinion of some Afghan analysts who advise the US government on policy with respect to a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.
The Afghan government is maintaining its unilateral ceasefire despite the current Taliban offensive.