KABUL (Pajhwok): The Taliban claim to have captured 18 districts in 14 provinces in the past one month but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) denies it and says security forces tactically retreated some areas in order to prevent civilian casualties.
Claim: Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid says the fighter captured Doab and Mandol districts in Nuristan province, Dawlat Shah in Laghman, Borkah in Baghlan, Gezab in Uruzgan, BalaMurghab in Badghis, Jalrez and Narkh in MaidanWardak, Deh Yak in Ghazni, Shinkai in Zabul, Washeer in Helmand, Qaisar in Faryab, Shahrak in Ghor, Charkh in Logar, Arghistan in Kandahar, Qades in Badghis, Farsi in Herat and Ab Band in Ghazni province.
Taliban completely captured seven districts:
Burka district of Baghlan: Malem Syed Mohammad, a resident of Burka district in Baghlan province, said the Taliban had captured the district before Eid-ul-Fitr without resistance and had since been under their control. He added currently all areas of Burka district were under the Taliban control.
Dawlat Shah District of Laghman: Laghman Police Spokesperson ShafiullahAfghanyar said security forces tactically withdrew from Dawlat Shah District on May 21.
He added security forces did not launch an offensive to retake Dawlat Shah District because there are security threats in other areas as well.
The residents of the locality, wishing not to be named, said currently all areas of Dawlat Shah are under the Taliban control.
Doab and Mandol districts of Nuristan: Nuristan’s Police Spokesperson SirajulHaqAmeer said security forces tactically retreated from Doab district. He said Mandol district was captured by the Taliban before Doab and its officials were present in Doab district.
Abdul Raqeeb, a resident of the locality, said Doab district was completely under the Taliban control.
Narkh district of MaidanWardak: Narkh district was captured by the Taliban on May 11.
EsmatullahStanikzai, the resident of Narkh district, said Narkh district was completely under the Taliban control at the moment. He said security forces often launched operation to retake Narkh but did not succeed.
Gezab district of Uruzgan: Former Gezab District Chief Abdullah said army base in Gezab district had been transferred to Daikundi province’s Beri area thus all areas of Gezab district felt to the Taliban.
Another source also confirmed to Pajhwok that Gezab district was completely under the Taliban control. However, the Governor Spokesperson Ahmad Shah Sahil denied losing Gezab and added security forces had made a tactical retreat.
Bala Murghab District of Badghis: Governor HasamuddinShamsh said that BalaMurghab district was with the Taliban from the past few years. Only one brigade was stationed in the district which was closed because it was not reinforced. He said BalaMurghab is completely under the Taliban control.
Centers of nine districts are under the Taliban control:
MaidanWardak’s Jalrez district: According to reports Jalrez district centre felt to the Taliban on May 21. Contact was not established with anyone in Jalrez, but EsmatullahStanikzai, the resident of Narkh district that shares border with Jalrez, said the district centre and most of the areas are under the Taliban control but some security forces check-points also existed in the SyahKhak area close Behsud district.
Faryab’sQaisar district: According to reports the Taliban carried out a truck bombing on the district centre on May 14 and captured the district centre.
Faryab’s Provincial Council Member Mohammad Nader Saeedi said only one company of army troops stationed three-kilometre from the district centre and the entire district is under the Taliban control.
Ghazni’s Dehyak district: Ghazni Police Chief Brig. Gen. Hikmatullah Kochi on June 5 said the Dehyak district centre had been shifted from current location to another location on the request of people. “No armed conflict has happened to transfer Deh Yak district nor anyone has been harmed,” he said.
Zabul’s Shinkai district: Zabul Provincial Council Head Haji Atta Jan Haq Bayan said most of Shinkai district areas were with the Taliban, but few days back the Taliban overran main district bazaar, police headquarters, NDS office and other government offices. He said still a military base was operational far from the district centre.
Helmand’s Washir district: Attaullah Afghan, head of Helmand provincial council, said that the Taliban had not captured Washir district of the province but Afghan forces had shifted the building of the district to another area called Saqila.
“The previous building of the district was in the middle of villages and the government was unable to manage it… a delegation was appointed to decide on shifting the district building,” he said, adding that except Saqila, other parts of the district were under the Taliban’s control.
Ghor’s Shahrak district: A security official who wished to go unnamed told Pajhwok that the center of Shahrak district of Ghor province fell to the Taliban without any fights on June 6 and Afghan forces retreated to Tangi village of the district.
However, a resident of the area said that except Tangi village, all other parts of the district were under the Taliban’s control.
Logar’s Charkh district: Governor’s spokesman of Logar province, DidarLawang said that the government had full control of the province including its districts.
However, a tribal elder from Pangram area of Charkh district of Logar, Sayed Ibrahim said that Afghan forces left the district center to Taliban and they shifted its building to Dabar area of the district.
Kandahar’s Arghistan district: Haji Sayed Jan Khakrizwal, head of Kandahar provincial council, said that most areas of Arghistan district of the province were under the Taliban’s control and attacks of the insurgent group had reached the center of the district. But he said that the center of the district was still under the control of Afghan forces.
Jamal NasarBarakzai, Kandahar police spokesman, also said that the center of Arghistan district was under the government’s control.
However, a resident of the area who wished to go unnamed said that the district building had long been shifted from its original location to an area between Shahband and Jagnari villages. He said that except the two villages, all other parts of the district were under the control of Taliban.
Ghazni’s Ab Band district: According to reports, Taliban captured the center of Ab Band district of Ghazni province two days ago. A security official who wished to go unnamed said, “Government officials shifted the district building and the police headquarter to Chena area of the district on Kabul-Kandahar highway.”
However, Ghazni police officials say that the Taliban had captured only two security posts in the district.
Two districts whose centers are under the government’s control:
Qadis district of Badghis: Hasamuddin Shams, governor of Badghis province said that Qadis district of the province was one of comparably stable districts where all government departments were functioning. He rejected reports of the district’s fall to Taliban but said that the Taliban were present in some remote parts of the district.
A member of Badghis provincial council who wished to go unnamed also said that the Taliban had not captured the district and Afghan forces were present there.
A resident of the area who wished to go unnamed said that the center of Qadis district was under the government’s control but its other parts were with the Taliban.
Farsi district of Herat: ToryaliTaheri, deputy head of Herat provincial council and provincial police spokesman, Abdul AhadWalizada said that Farsi district of the province was under the government’s control. “Taliban’s claim is false and Farsi district is under the control of Afghan forces,” Walizada said.
A resident of the area who wished to go unnamed said that only the center of Farsi district was under the government’s control while all other parts of the district were with the Taliban.
A Taliban spokesman, ZabihullahMujahid about the shifting of some district buildings, said that they had captured districts whose centers moved elsewhere.
“If the government moves a district’s building to the capital of a province or open an office and call it a district, it does not mean that they have control on the district, for example, there is only a security post under the name of Charkh district which is located in the capital of Logar province, so the district is not in their control but it is only a security post in Pul-e-Alam, capital of the province… there are many of similar cases,” he said.
RohullahAhmadzai, a spokesman of the Ministry of Defense rejected the Taliban’s claim that the group had captured 19 districts in a month. However, he said that Afghan security forces had retreated from some districts due to prevention of civilian and Afghan forces’ casualties.
He said that Afghan forces left some districts and areas on the request of local people. Ahmadzai said that a plan had been created for recapturing these districts and there would be positive changes in the near future.
Taliban claim that the group captured 18 districts in a month, but some local sources say that Taliban captured centers of 16 districts while the government moved their district center staff to alternative buildings. The centers of two of these districts are in the government’s control but most of the territory in these districts is with the Taliban.
Verdict: Taliban have completely captured seven of 18 districts in a month, centers of two districts are still with the government while the district government of nine other districts are still functioning in new locations.