TALIBAN CAPTURES 3 AFGHAN DISTRICTS IN 3 DAYS
Building on their military gains since the official start of the withdrawal of international troops, Taliban insurgents captured yet another district in Afghanistan this week, according to officials, Hesamuddin Hesam and Qiam Noori reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Government forces abandoned the Dawlat Abad district center in northern Faryab province before dawn and fled to the neighboring Andkhoi district without engaging the militants, according to three local councilors. The fate of more than a dozen members of the security forces in the district remained unclear because the telecommunications system was down, provincial councilor Abdul Ahad Alibek said.
Dawlat Abad was under siege for three years. Forces could only receive logistical support by air; Ground support was impossible because the militants controlled all routes leading to the district, Alibek added.
In Ghazni province, in the south-east, the militants overran two security checkpoints in Ab Band district. Officials said on Monday that heavy clashes were ongoing in at least three districts of the province.
The districts could collapse if the government fails to send air support, warned Arif Rahmani, a member of Parliament representing Ghazni. It is the third straight day of the insurgents overrunning districts.
On Monday, government forces abandoned Qaysar district in Faryab after days of heavy fighting. In addition, the insurgents took control of Shahrak district in the western Ghor province.
The militants have made a string of gains in the country. Since the beginning of the official withdrawal of the United States and other NATO troops in Afghanistan on May 1, at least 10 districts have fallen to the Taliban. Afghanistan has 34 provinces and around 400 districts. District centers serve as secondary-level administrative units, one level below the provinces.
According to a UN report, in the past year, the Taliban were able to capture five districts, four of which were recaptured by the government within several days.