Taliban’s 2018 offensive encompasses all regions of Afghanistan

The Taliban’s 2018 offensive, which it calls Al Khandaq Jihadi operations, has targeted Afghan government forces in nearly all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. While Afghan security forces appear to be focusing on Taliban forces in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar – the birthplace of the Taliban and its traditional strongholds – the jihadist group is effectively counterattacking in the other regions of Afghanistan. The Taliban appears to maintain the initiative throughout Afghanistan, while the Afghan military is forced to react to Taliban offensives, such as the latest incursion into Farah City.

News such as suicide attacks in Kabul or Jalalabad, or the Taliban entering Farah City and the Afghan military’s efforts to retake it tend to grab the headlines in the Western press. However, a closer look at reports in the Afghan media of Taliban activity provides a disturbing look at the group’s efforts.

Below is a sampling of press reports from the Afghan media. The list below only includes major Taliban attacks in the provinces, and excludes high profile suicide attacks in Kabul. There are numerous other smaller Taliban attacks that go unreported. If all of the Taliban’s claims on its Voice of Jihad website were included, this picture would be much darker. Voice of Jihad is often dismissed as Taliban propaganda, nearly all of its claimed attacks, when reported in the Afghan media, can be verified.

The list below only includes reports from a three week period since the Taliban announced its 2018 offensive on April 26. In these reports, at least 198 Afghan soldiers, policemen, and pro-government militiamen and 30 civilians have reportedly been killed. The actual number is much higher.

The list details Taliban activities in 13 province: Badakhshan, Kunduz, and Baghlan in the north; Khost, Nangarhar, and Logar in the east; Zabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar in the south; Farah, Faryab, and Badghis, in the west; and Ghor in the center.

Again, the reports below are merely a sampling. The in the past three weeks, the Taliban has been very active in many other provinces, as Helmand, Uruzgan, Paktika, Paktia, Kunar, Nuristan, Jawzjan, Sar-i-Pul, Balkh, Herat, and Takhar are known Taliban hotspots with significant activity.

The US military would like for you to believe that the Taliban is a “desperate” and “losing ground” in Afghanistan. A cursory survey of press reports from Afghanistan contradicts the US military’s portrayal of the security situation.

A sampling of reports of Taliban activity over the past three weeks from the Afghan press:

Taliban kill 18 Afghan forces in Ghazni
The Taliban overran Jaghatu district.

Taliban ‘Pushed Back’ In Farah City: Governor
“… 15 army soldiers, 10 policemen and five civilians were killed in the clashes.”

Heavy Clashes Ongoing in Two Districts of Ghazni
“He [an Afghan official] claimed that 13 security forces, mostly police, were killed in Zana Khan and nine police were killed in Jaghato

Heavy Clashes Ongoing In Ghor Province
Local officials confirmed that the village of Oshan fell to the Taliban after insurgents attacked the village.

Taliban seize strategic area of Balcharagh district
“… 10 security personnel were killed, 14 wounded and 30 others captured by the assailants as reinforcements could not reach in time and the area fell to the Taliban.”
The Taliban overran this district center but left it after one day.

Four Checkpoints Collapsed to Taliban in Zabul, 22 Police Killed

Nangarhar governor resigns amid tense security situation
“Violence carried out by the Taliban and the Islamic State has recently intensified there.”

Taliban Attack Two Checkpoints in Farah, Killing 43 Soldiers
A presage to the Taliban entering Farah City.

Taliban Suffer Heavy Casualties in Kandahar
Both Afghan and Taliban officials routinely inflate its enemy’s casualties. Afghan officials did confirm five policemen were killed in attacks initiated by the Taliban.

Residents Call For Large-Scale Operation In Badakhshan
“Some residents of Badakhshan called on government to launch large-scale military operations to remove “serious threats” to Faizabad, the capital city of the north-eastern province.”

Taliban Attack on Voters’ Registration Center in Badghis Kills 8 Soldiers

Taliban Kidnaps Seven Indian Nationals from Afghanistan’s Baghlan

Bomb Blast Inside Mosque Kills 19, Injures 33
This attack remains unclaimed, but it is very likely it was carried out by the Taliban. Khost is Haqqani Network territory and little goes on there without its approval. Also, the Islamic State is not shy about claiming attacks it did not execute.

11 Children Killed as Car Bomb Targets Foreign Forces Convoy in Kandahar

Taliban Attack Kills 30 Afghan Policemen in Badakhshan’s Teshkan District

Deputy Governor of Logar Killed in Taliban Ambush

Taliban Kills 14 Soldiers in Kunduz
Also, two policemen were killed in an attack in Baghlan.

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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