The Taliban has conquered yet another district in Afghanistan, bringing the total of districts under its control to 36, according to an analysis by The Long War Journal (LWJ).
Taliban terrorists are contesting the control of another 35 Afghan districts, the data compiled by the Journal shows.
That means the Taliban either controls or contests 71 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts.
In September, the United Nations conducted a similar analysis to the one by LWJ, revealing that the Taliban’s reach in Afghanistan is greater than at any point since the group was ousted from power following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
The data gathered by the UN showed that about half of the districts across Afghanistan’s 34 provinces were rated as having a “high” or “extreme” threat level, which means UN workers cannot travel to or through the area.
Overall, nearly 80 percent (27) of Afghanistan’s provinces had some districts that were considered to be under a ‘high” or “extreme” threat.
LWJ, citing Taliban propaganda and Afghan media outlets, reports that Ghormach is the latest district to fall to the Taliban. It is located in the northwestern province of Faryab, along Afghanistan’s border with Turkmenistan.
“Administrative control of Ghormach was shifted from Badghis [province] to Faryab, the Afghan Analyst Network reported in 2012, hence the discrepancy with respect to the province between the Taliban and Afghan press reports,” notes LWJ.
Via its official propaganda outlet, Voice of Jihad, the Taliban released a statement claiming it has effectively taken control of Ghormach.
According to the data compiled by LWJ, “The Taliban now controls 36 districts and contests another 35. … The group has made a push to gain territory over the past several weeks and seized a dozen districts in the north, west, and south.”
“The situation in Faryab somewhat mirrors that of Kunduz, where the Taliban took control of several districts since it launched its offensive in the province in May,” explains the Journal. “After months of fighting and several failed attempts to take the capital of Kunduz City, the jihadist group succeeded in doing so on Sept. 28. The Afghan military drove out the Taliban in a two-week counterattack.”
Sources told TOLONews that the Taliban overran the Ghormach district early Sunday after heavy clashes broke out with Afghan security forces.
“A source said on condition of anonymity that the Taliban attacked Ghormach at about 2 am local time and took control of the district governor’s compound and the police headquarters after heavy clashes with security forces,” reports TOLONews. “The source said that government employees have been moved to a military base in the district which is also now surrounded by insurgents.”
“If the troops do not receive air support, the military base will also fall to the Taliban,” the source reportedly added.
Although the Taliban reportedly suffered deadly casualties and lost four vehicles, it managed to seize an armored personnel carrier (APC), a pickup truck, and a sizable amount of arms and ammunition, notes LWJ.
TOLONews stated that the remaining Afghan security forces in the district retreated to a “military base.”
“The fall of Ghormach took place just 10 Days after the Taliban seized the districts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot in Faryab; the Afghan government later claimed to have liberated Garziwan,” according to LWJ.