US commander Gen. John Nicholson today reported that Afghanistan’s government has lost control of about a third of the country’s overall territory, with the Taliban having claimed over 10%, and at least 20% of other territory in a “contested” state.
Nicholson reported heavy fighting, mounting casualties, and up to 1,300 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan, receiving direct aid and guidance from the leadership in Syria. Incredibly, he presented the overall situation as a “positive” one, noting that the Afghan government still controls the majority of the population, and all the biggest cities.
Still, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford described Afghanistan as “stalemated” in his own remarks to the Senate, and while Nicholson tried to put a more positive spin on it having reached “equilibrium,” that’s 15 solid years of upbeat Pentagon assessments that have left the Taliban in control of more territory than at any time since the war began, and no realistic possibility of an end.
The Taliban is also drawing increasingly near to some cities in Afghanistan, including Talin Kot, Lashkar Gah, and Kunduz, all three provincial capitals, and all three facing on-again, off-again sieges, with Kunduz having already fallen to the Taliban once last year for a few months.