Taliban parades large convoy in Sangin

The Taliban paraded a large convoy of fighters into the district center of Sangin in Helmand province just one month after Resolute Support denied Afghan forces were defeated there. The Taliban force operated openly in the daylight without fear of being targeted by US or Afghan airstrikes.

The Taliban video, simply entitled “Sangin,” was released on Voice of Jihad on May 6. An English-speaking Taliban member narrated the video. When shown, his face is blotted out. According to the Taliban, the video “contains information about the strategic district of Sangin, its conquest by the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate, barbarity by the foreign forces and the hirelings [Afghan security forces] and the reopening of the bazaar on the first day of the new blessed campaign ‘Operation Mansouri.’ ”

The video showed scores of vehicles, including several US-made Humvees, laden with Taliban fighters entering Sangin’s district center. The Taliban fighters were greeted by hundreds if not thousands of Afghans, while Taliban flags waved throughout the town. A large banner announcing Operation Mansouri, the group’s newly announced spring offensive, is hanging at the entrance to the town.

According to the Taliban, key buildings in the town, including a hospital, were destroyed during US airstrikes on March 22. The Taliban claimed it rebuilt and reopened the bazaar for the commencement of Operation Mansouri, which was announced on April 28.

The Taliban seized Sangin’s district center on March 22 after surrounding it for several months, and hailed its capture as an important victory. US and Afghan warplanes bombed Sangin’s district center after airlifting the remaining forces during the dead of night.

Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, denied that the Taliban overran Sangin, and instead claimed it relocated the district center several kilometers from the original site. In a statement that clumsily attempted to salvage the loss of Sangin’s district center, Resolute Support said that “the only thing they left to the Taliban is rubble and dirt.”

The Taliban video told a different story. While some buildings appeared heavily damaged, and the Taliban attempted to use this damage as propaganda to portray the “barbarity” of US and Afghan forces, much of Sangin remained intact.

Additionally, the Taliban video showed that more than a month after Afghan forces lost Sangin, and despite the relocation of the “new” district center just kilometers away, the Taliban can still flaunt a large force with little fear of reprisal.

For more information the Taliban takeover of Sangin, see the following reports from FDD’s Long War Journal: Taliban takes key district in Helmand province, Resolute Support spins loss of Sangin district center as a victory, and Capturing Sangin an ‘important victory,’ Taliban says

Images from the Taliban video “Sangin”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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