News - Afghanistan
The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) launched a counter-offensive to retake the Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province late Monday night. The Taliban militants that had captured the district just days before were driven out of the district by Tuesday morning and close to 100 of them were killed, according to security officials.
"Chahar Dara district was taken over by the ANSF at 8:00am this morning," Deputy Chief of Army Staff General Murad Ali Murad said on Tuesday. "The ANSF has been following them door-to-door. So far, the dead bodies of 85 enemies led by foreigners have been collected," he added.
The Taliban's rapid sweep through Chahar Dara and Dashte Archi districts in Kunduz late last week did not come as much of a surprise to most, despite the militant's ability to catch local forces off-guard. The insurgent group's recent territorial gains come after months of intensive fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces, who have additional support from local armed groups aligned with Kabul. Sources indicate troop reinforcements from Balkh province are what allowed the Afghan forces to re-take Chahar Dara on Tuesday.
The Taliban's effectiveness in destabilizing parts of northern Afghanistan, a region of the country traditionally more removed from the group's activity, has prompted major concerns as the Afghan forces struggle to assert themselves in their first fighting season since the NATO combat mission ended in late 2014. Although just under 10,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, they have moved into an almost entirely training and advising role, and even coalition air support for the Afghan forces has dramatically decreased.
"The absence of a united central leadership and directives results in the retreating of forces or sometimes it results in delayed logistics, which causes the ANSF to be un-prepared," veteran and military analyst Jawed Kohistani told TOLOnews. "In the Chahar Dara incident, close to seven hundred security forces had to retreat after an attack from three or four hundred insurgents."
For now, Dashte Archi district is still under the control of Taliban, though the ANSF are expected to turn their attention to that next. Although, on Monday night, a few villages and districts of central Baghlan province were also said to have fallen into the hands of Taliban militants.
Still, security officials have emphasized that the back-and-forth of territorial battles in remote areas of Afghanistan is not representative of the true nature of the insurgent war. Instead, as Ministry of Defense (MoD) deputy spokesman Dawlat Waziri says, "the war is an intelligence war."
"If it was a war on the battlefield, we would have known that the enemy is on the other side of the line and we are on this side. But in an intelligence war, it is very difficult, they come in civilian dress like you and I - the same way they attacked Parliament yesterday," Waziri said, referring to the Taliban-claimed bombing of the legislature on Monday. "I believe that they were hidden somewhere close to the houses near parliament and slowly gathered their weapons and then attacked."
Nevertheless, in much of Afghanistan, the territorial ebbs and flows of the fighting is what effects everyday life. Currently the ANSF are fighting the Taliban in nine different provinces.