by Bill Roggio & Caleb Weiss
The Long War Journal
October 8, 2015
The Taliban overran two more districts in northern Afghanistan, this time in the province of Faryab, where the jihadist group made a push to seize the capital just last weekend.
The Taliban said it seized control of the districts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot in two separate statements that were released on Voice of Jihad, the group’s official propaganda outlet.
“Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate have managed to completely liberated [sic] Khwaja Musa district [Pashtun Kot] administration center, police HQ building and all the surrounding areas during a large scale operation,” the first statement said. “14 enemy check posts were overrun, forcing the enemy to flee while leaving behind 4 dead bodies and 2 APC wreckages.”
The Taliban later stated that it “liberated [the] Garzewan administration center, police HQ building and all the surrounding buildings around 05:30 pm local time today” after launching an offensive yesterday.
The Taliban’s claims were largely confirmed in Afghan press reports. Pajhwok Afghan News reported yesterday that the attack in Garziwan was executed by “hundreds of Taliban fighters, led by Mullah Shoib, Mullah Ahmad Shah, Qari Jailan and a Pakistani Sheikh,” and the Taliban advanced to within 4 kilometers of the district center as Afghan political leaders fled.
By today, “Taliban fighters captured more parts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot districts” while “security personnel said they had tactically vacated the areas,” Pajhwok reported.
The fall of the districts of Garziwan and Pashtun Kot took place just one week after the Taliban attempted to seize control of Maimana, the provincial capital of Faryab. The two districts are on the outskirts of Maimana, and control access from the east.
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. 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 current status of Kunduz city is unclear; the Afghan military and government have claimed to have cleared it several times, only to see the Taliban reenter and raise its white flag over the city center.
While fighting for control of the provincial capital of Kunduz, the Taliban launched a wider offensive in the Afghan north aimed at seizing control of districts in five provinces: Badakhshan, Baghlan, Faryab, Kunduz, and Takhar. Since Sept. 28, the jihadist group has taken control of 11 districts in these five provinces and another in the western province of Farah.
The Taliban has made a concerted effort to regain control of territory since the US and NATO ended its combat mission in Afghanistan and switched to an “advise and assist” mission. According to a study by The Long War Journal, 31 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts are under Taliban control, and another 36 districts are contested. 331 districts are either under government control, or their status cannot be determined based on open source information.