The Taliban captured a third district Tuesday in Afghanistan, the latest since launching its annual spring offensive two weeks ago.
The insurgent battlefield victory came a day after the U.S.-backed government informed the national parliament that Afghan security forces lost more than 250 personnel fighting the Taliban over the past week.
Officials say insurgents assaulted Tala Wa Barfak district in the northern province of Baghlan from several directions and overrun the it after heavy fighting with Afghan forces.
Provincial Governor Abdul Hai Naeemi told VOA’s Afghan Service that the fate of scores of government forces was not known immediately. He said airpower could not arrive in time to support ground forces, paving the way for the Taliban to seize control of the district.
Naeem said he was unable to discuss casualties among Afghan forces because authorities have lost communication links and insurgents blocked all roads leading to district.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid previously said Taliban forces entered Tala Wa Barfak district center after inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan security forces and seized large quantities of weapons, equipment and vehicles.
The volatile Afghan district has changed hands several times in the past.
The Taliban launched its Al-Khandaq spring offensive on April 25, and overran northern districts of Qala-e-Zal and Kohistan in Kunduz and Badakhshan provinces, respectively.
Insurgents dispute the U.S.-backed Afghan government’s claims that security forces have since retaken Kohistan on the border with Pakistan.
A U.S. government watchdog, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction or SIGAR in its latest report said the Taliban controls or contest nearly half of the country’s 407 districts, more than at any point since 2015.
Afghan forces reportedly lost more than 10,000 personnel in 2017. SIGAR noted that the number of forces declined nearly 11 percent over the past year amid worsening violence.
Source: Voice of America