Taliban militants have overrun separate districts in three different faraway provinces, demonstrating their ability operate effectively in multiple theaters, The Long War Journal reported Tuesday.
The districts are separated by hundreds of miles of territory and each have different ethnic groups controlling them. “The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country,” the Long War Journal stated. The losses come just days after a massive suicide bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul and discussions at the highest levels of the Trump administration on raising the level of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The U.S. mission in Afghanistan is focused on training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Afghan National Security Forces have suffered historic casualties since former President Barack Obama ended the U.S. combat mission in 2015, and are increasingly faltering on the battlefield.
The Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001. The UN believes that one-third of the Afghan population now lives under Taliban rule, and that the insurgent group controls approximately 40 percent of the country. The more territory the group controls, the more damage it inflicts on the Afghan civilian population.
“A total of 1,662 civilian deaths were confirmed between 1 January and 30 June – an increase of two per cent on the same period last year, according to figures from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan,” the UN report noted. The report also stated that “that 40 percent of all civilian casualties during the six-month period were killed or injured by anti-government forces using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs and pressure-plate devices, which were responsible for the deaths of 596 civilians and injured 1,483.”
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a plan to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by approximately 4,000 to assist the Afghan National Security Forces at lower levels. Trump is, however, skeptical that the plan will work, and worries about an enduring presence in Afghanistan without a plan to eventually withdraw.
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