Taliban Has Most Territory in Afghanistan Since 2001

UN Report Based on Early September, Before Kunduz Fell

A new report from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has provided an alarming metric for the ongoing US-led occupation of Afghanistan, revealing that the Taliban’s reach in the country is its largest since the 2001 US invasion, meaning 14 years of war has left the Taliban with growing influence.

The report has not been publicly released, but has made the rounds across to several nations, warning that more than half of the country’s districts are now under either “high” or “extreme” threat from the Taliban, reflecting their ability to span the country.

It gets worse though. The UN report is based on data from early September, before the Taliban seized the major northern city of Kunduz. That means this war-time worst situation actually got significantly worse after the report was already penned.

This should be another hugely damaging blow to US confidence in the honest of military leadership, as Gen. John Campbell, the top commander of the war, insisted in testimony only last week that the situation was well in hand, and that Afghanistan’s military held “nearly all” of the districts in Afghanistan.

While the UN security reports only began after the US launched its invasion, in some ways the security situation may be leaning more favorable to the Taliban since before even that, as the Taliban did not have control over Kunduz or the surrounding area when the US invaded. Most of the north of the country was, before the US invasion, under the control of the Northern Alliance.

The Northern Alliance ultimately formed the basis for most of the leadership of the government after the US occupation,  but its territory seems to be less secure than ever, with the Taliban taking significant territory across the north in recent months.

Indeed, in only the past two weeks the UN mission has had to abandon four of its 13 provincial officials, the most ever at any given time, because security simply didn’t allow them to remain. These offices were mostly in the north.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.