The fall of the northern district of Bilchiragh in Faryab province, is part of a disturbing pattern of Afghan forces being surrounded by the Taliban and then either overwhelmed or forced to surrender.
In what has become an all too familiar scene in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters celebrated their victory and looted a district center in broad daylight, without fear of reprisal.
The Taliban has released a new statement attributed to its emir, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who says there will only be “peace” when America leaves Afghanistan. Akhundzada blasts the current Afghan government as a “corrupt regime” and portrays the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the only legitimate authority.
The Taliban occupied a police station in Ghazni City and looted the facility even as Resolute Support claimed the entire city was under Afghan government control.
The Taliban never slowed in launching numerous attacks across the country even as it committed significant resources to the fight in Ghazni.
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.