Monday, June 22

Taliban Capture Two Northern Afghan Districts on Saturday and Monday

"The Taliban may be tired. It may have divisions over who the leader is. But by measure of activity, areas of influence, the numbers of incidents and casualties, they're having significant success."
-- Anthony Cordesman, CSIS analyst
Quote from NBC News in-depth report Taliban Splinters as ISIS Makes Inroads in Afghanistan, by Fazul Rahim, Mujeeb Ahmed, and Mushtaq Yusufzai; June 21, 2015

See also in-depth NBC report ISIS-Linked Fighters Tighten Grip in Afghanistan, Outmatch Taliban Brutality by Fazul Rahim, Alexander Smith and NBC NEWS; May 1, 2015. Looks like quite the terrorist version of ISAF:
Most of the fighters hail from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the Caucuses — and are even more brutal than the Afghan Taliban, according to local lawmakers, police and residents interviewed by NBC News.
The second report below, about the Saturday attack, mentions the Afghan Taliban assault included several foreign fighters, which doesn't mean they weren't also present during Monday's attack. (News on the Monday attack is still sketchy.) In both cases they clearly overwhelmed Afghan security forces -- although ANSF did score a victory on Friday by retaking Yamgan district from the Taliban after a two-week battle. 
Monday Offensive

Taliban Capture Another Northern Afghan District
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS via The New York Times
June 22, 2015, - 1:49 A.M. EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban captured a second district in the northern Kunduz province early Monday after heavy fighting with local security forces.

Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, head of the provincial council, said the insurgents attacked the district of Dashti Archi from four sides, setting off heavy fighting before seizing full control of the area. He said local forces suffered casualties but did not have a precise count.

He said around 150,000 residents of the district were unable to leave.

The Taliban confirmed that they had captured the district, as well as ammunition and four tanks, in an emailed statement.


Saturday Offensive

Taliban seize key district in northern Afghanistan
By Eltaf Najafizada
Bloomberg News via Pittsburgh-Post Gazette

June 21, 2015 -- 10:52 PM EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — Parts of Char Dara district in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province fell into Taliban hands after a 10-hour standoff with government forces, local officials said.

Afghan Taliban and foreign fighters — including Chechens, Uzbeks and al-Qaida members — opened a “major assault” Saturday morning and captured the center of the district at 7 p.m., said Meer Wali, a district policeman involved in the fighting.

Afghan forces tactically withdrew to minimize casualties and protect civilians, and reinforcements were deployed Sunday to try to regain control, provincial spokesman Sayed Sarwar Hussaini said. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed confirmed the capture of the district.

The Taliban are attempting to gain territory and have intensified attacks that caused many civilian casualties as U.S.-led forces ended their combat mission last year, leaving all security duties to Afghan personnel. Sixteen Afghans were killed Saturday as their vehicle hit a roadside bomb after a June 13 assault on a checkpoint left 17 Afghan forces dead.

Despite the battle in the district, militants are now also fighting government forces in areas 2 miles from the governor’s compound to try to capture the provincial city of Kunduz, according to Hamdullah Danishi, provincial deputy governor. Kunduz, part of Taliban’s central war after their spring offensive, almost collapsed in April.

“There were too many heavily armed insurgents,” Mr. Wali said. The Taliban surrounded the district and cut off supply lines, forcing Afghan security personnel to withdraw, he said.

Three Afghan forces were killed and six were wounded while 17 Taliban militants died and 21 suffered injuries, according to Mr. Hussaini, the spokesman.

The Taliban’s capture of Char Dara came a day after Afghan forces retook another area that had been held by the militants since June 6. The district of Yamgan is now under government control after a two-week battle that killed at least 120 local and international Taliban fighters, according to an email from the Interior Ministry.

Four districts of the more than 350 in the war-torn nation are controlled by Taliban, senior military official Gen. Afzal Aman told reporters June 13. Forty percent of Afghanistan faces a significant threat from insurgents, according to the United Nations.

The war in Afghanistan killed 92,000 from 2001 to 2014 and wounded almost 100,000, according to a report this month from Brown University. That toll includes Afghan and foreign civilians, foreign forces and insurgents.



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