Taliban militants entered the major city of Kunduz Sunday and launched a new offensive in the south, amid reports that Afghan Security Forces are losing approximately 18 men a day countrywide.
The attack on Kunduz came from four different directions, and local reports indicate heavy fighting on the outskirts of the city. Troublingly, the Taliban appears to be coordinating its northern push with a renewed southern offensive.
Taliban militants have besieged the strategic city of Lashkar Gah in Southern Afghanistan for months, and just took a district bordering the city Sunday. “Lashkar Gah is surrounded from all four sides, and Taliban are staging attacks from all four sides,” Helmand’s provincial council leader told The New York Times.
The Taliban’s tactics in Kunduz and Lashkar Gah mimic each other and pose a grave danger to the U.S.-backed Afghan Security Forces.
The Afghan Security Forces lost nearly 900 men in the month of July alone, and are having their bloodiest year since the U.S. invasion in 2001. The high attrition rate of the Afghan forces, coupled with two major offensives across hundreds of miles will likely push the Afghan forces to their brink.
“I would call what is going on right now between the Afghan national defense security forces and the Taliban [as] roughly a stalemate,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford continued to Congress.
The Taliban seized Kunduz in September 2015, marking the first time the insurgent group held a major city since 2001. The fall of Kunduz, triggered a significant strategy review by the Pentagon and President Barack Obama. The president eventually loosened the U.S. rules of engagement in Afghanistan, and committed a significant contingent of U.S. forces up until 2001.
Since the end of the NATO combat mission in 2014, the Taliban controls more territory in the country than at any time since 2001. The Afghan forces only control approximately 70 percent of the country, according to Congressional testimony by Dunford on September 22.
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