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.
Meanwhile, Resolute Support continues its claim Ghazni City is under Afghan control and uses Taliban body counts as a measure of success.
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.
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.
The raids in Helmand and Nangarhar indicate that al Qaeda’s leaders are not focused on its survival. Al Mesri was focused on manufacturing IEDs to support the Taliban’s insurgency in Helmand, while Rahmatullah and his cohorts were operating in Nangarhar’s provincial capital.
The Taliban remains active in Parwan, where it contested five of the provinces 10 districts. One American and two Afghan soldiers were also wounded in the suicide attack.