Report: Taliban controls more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since 2001

by WorldTribune Staff, September 28, 2017

As the Pentagon prepares to deploy 3,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a new report reveals that the Taliban is now either in control of or is contesting 45 percent of the country.

The Taliban claims to control or contest 50 percent of the country’s 407 districts.

Citing Long War Journal (LWJ) and United Nations data, Breitbart News said it “has found that the magnitude of the Taliban’s reach in Afghanistan is of historic proportions – the terrorist group currently holds more territory than at any other time since the U.S. military dethroned its regime in late 2001.”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s authorization of 3,000 additional American troops will bring the total number to about 14,000.

The Taliban claims to control or contest 50 percent of the country’s 407 districts.

The U.S. military puts the estimate at 40 percent.

LWJ data shows the Taliban controls 41 districts, contests 118, and has made “unconfirmable” claims of having conquered an additional 24 – for a total of 183 (45 percent) of the total 407 districts.

Most of the Taliban-held territory is reportedly concentrated in rural Afghanistan.

“Our assessment highlights the Taliban’s rural control, a key source of insurgent strength that the U.S. military underestimates,” the LWJ noted. “The coalition and Afghan government cannot roll back Taliban gains or ultimately defeat it while ignoring the Taliban’s rural advantage.”

In recent SIGAR [U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction] reports, the U.S. military has described rural regions controlled or contested by the Taliban as “less vital areas” that have “less strategic importance.”

LWJ noted that “This urban focus underestimates the Taliban and its strategy to leverage control of rural areas to launch attacks against urban centers.”

Earlier this year, the U.N. reported: “The security situation in Afghanistan remained intensely volatile. UNAMA [United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] recorded 5,687 security-related incidents in Afghanistan between January and the end of March 2017, the highest total ever recorded for that period since 2001.”

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