Taliban captures more than 70 Afghan police in attack near the capital

The Afghan Taliban captured more than 70 Afghan policemen and took over a number of outposts after clashing with security forces in Jalrez district in the province of Wardak, just south of Kabul. The Afghan government is maintaining its unilateral ceasefire despite the current Taliban offensive.

The Taliban, in a statement released on its official website, claimed it “seized control [of] 13 posts and 1 base from the enemy” and “dozens of the enemy suffered casualties” and “72 surrendered themselves to Mujahideen after putting up a small resistance.”

Additionally, the Taliban said it destroyed six “tanks,” including four in an IED attack and two in “rocket fire” (likely RPGs) as Afghan forces attempted to reinforce the beleaguered Afghan forces. The “tanks” are likely US-supplied Humvees. The Taliban also claimed it seized a large quantity of weapons and war material, including “a pair of night vision binoculars.”

Afghan officials backed up a portion of the Taliban’s claim. Two members of Wardak’s provincial council confirmed the Taliban more than 80 members of the Public Order Police were captured after what was described as light fighting, Deutsche Welle reported. One provincial council member accused police commanders of being in “collusion” with the Taliban and watching cricket matches together at police checkpoints.

Jalrez directly borders Kabul province and is a short distance from Kabul City, the capital of Afghanistan. Jalrez district has been contested for more than two years, according to an ongoing study by FDD’s Long War Journal. Of Wardak’s seven districts, three are Taliban controlled and three more are contested.

The Taliban attack in Wardak is but one of many since the Taliban ended its three-day ceasefire that began at the end of Ramadan. The Afghan government, along with the US military, has extended its ceasefire, but the Taliban rejected it and immediately resumed fighting. In one of its more spectacular attacks since the resumption of fighting, the Taliban overran a military base in Badghis province and killed more than 30 Afghan soldiers.

The Afghan Ministry of Defense claimed that the Taliban has launched attacks in 10 provinces over the past four days as the Afghan military honors the government’s unilateral ceasefire and the military remains on the defensive. However, the Afghan military is clearly understating the extent of the Taliban’s offensive.

Just today, the Taliban claimed on “Voice of Jihad” that it launched attacks in 15 provinces (Baghlan, Daykuni, Ghazni, Helmand, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunar, Kunduz, Logar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Uruzgan, and Wardak). The Taliban’s claims should be viewed as credible as, while it often inflates casualties, it rarely takes credit for an attack it has not executed. Additionally, these claims can usually be verified by local Afghan press reporting.

The Afghan government has insisted on maintaining its unilateral ceasefire in hopes of sparking peace negotiations, despite the fact that the Taliban is taking advantage of the lull in the Afghan military’s offensive operations to launch its own attacks.

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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