The resurgent Taliban have taken more territory in Afghanistan in the last two months than atany time since they were ousted from power in 2001.
Over the last 20 years, the control map of
Afghanistan has been an ever-changing canvas.
After looking at the fluctuating picture of who
controls which areas. It appears the Taliban have been emboldened in recent weeks by the withdrawal of US troops – retaking many districts from government forces.
Research from Afghan service shows the militants now have a strong presence across the country. including in the north and north-east and central provinces like Ghazni and Maidan Wardak. They are also closing in on major cities such as Kunduz, Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah.
Who’s in control in Afghanistan?
By control, we mean districts where the
administrative centre, police headquarters and all other government institutions are controlled by the Taliban.
US troops and their Nato and regional allies forced the Taliban from power in November 2001.
The group had been harbouring Osama Bin
Laden and other al-Qacda figures linked to the l September 2001 attacks in the US. But despite a continued international presence in the region, billions of dollars of support and
training for the Afghan government forces,
the Taliban regrouped and gradually regained
strength in more remote areas.
Their main areas of influence were around
their traditional strongholds in the south and
south-west – northern Helmand, Kandahar,
Uruzgan, and Zabul provinces. But also, in the hills of southern Faryab in the north-west and the mountains of Badakhshan in the north east.
Are the Taliban holding ground? Although they now control more territory than they have since 2001, the situation on the ground is fluid.
The government has been forced to abandon some district administrative centres, where it could not withstand pressure from the Taliban. Others have been taken by force.
Where the government has been able to
reorganise its forces or gather local militias, it
has recaptured some areas that were lost – or
tighting in those areas continues. Although most US troops left in June, a handful remain in Kabul and the US Air Force has carried out airstrikes against Taliban positions over the past few days.