In addition to Ajristan and Khwaja Umar, the districts of Nawur, Jaghatu, and Deh Yak have fallen to the Taliban. Meanwhile, Resolute Support has intentionally misled the the public about the status of seven of Ghazni’s districts. Resolute Support claimed these districts were under government control; in reality the Taliban physically controlled the terrain while the Afghan government operated the government remotely from Ghazni City.
Al Qaeda has long operated in Ghazni province, the site of a large-scale Taliban offensive in recent days. In 2010, Osama bin Laden ordered his men to relocate from northern Pakistan into Ghazni and other Afghan provinces. Bin Laden’s lieutenant also wrote in mid-2010 that al Qaeda had “very strong military activity” in at least eight Afghan provinces, including Ghazni. More recently, American and Afghan forces have targeted al Qaeda operatives in the province.
This now makes two Iranian-based leaders of Bahraini militant group Saraya al Ashtar, or the Al Ashtar Brigades, to be designated as global terrorists by the US State Department.
The current fighting in and around Ghazni City indicates that the Taliban has a detailed plan to tie up Afghan forces while attempting to seize the provincial capital. Additionally, the Taliban was able to mass its forces undetected; the Afghan military was clearly caught off guard and is struggling to get into the fight four days after the Taliban launched its attack.
Between 40 and 100 Afghan Army Commandos are reported to have been killed as the Taliban overran Ajristan district in Ghazni province. As the Taliban overran Ajristan, battled for control of Ghazni City, and cut off the Kabul-Kandahar highway, it has demonstrated that it is able to effectively hit multiple locations at the same time.
Resolute Support initially described the attack on Ghazni City as a “failed attempt” that would be used by the press to generate sensational headlines. Two days later, Afghan forces are still battling entrenched Taliban fighters inside the city, and the vital Kabul-Kandahar remains severed. Battles such as the one in Ghazni, reveal a disturbing pattern of misinformation and deception by Resolute Support when it comes to assessing and reporting on the Taliban’s attacks on major cities as well as its assaults on district centers.
Both the Afghan government (and Resolute Support) and the Taliban claim they control the city. The Afghan government and Resolute Support have proven unreliable in the past when it denied that the Taliban twice took control of Kunduz City, as well as Farah City earlier this year.
An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander confirmed for the first time that the Yemeni Ansar Allah (Houthis) struck targets following the IRGC’s order. The IRGC spokesman scrambled to deny the statements.