Taliban Says They Control 34 Districts, Contest 167 Others

Taliban's Control Heavily Centered in Southwestern Afghanistan

by Jason Ditz, March 29, 2017

In an unusual move, the Taliban has issued a report of their own on the amount of territory that they consider under their control in Afghanistan, insisting that they estimate themselves to have total control over 34 districts, and that they are at least contesting another 167. That gives them a presence in more than half of the country’s 398 districts.

This comes amid recent reports from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) noting that the Taliban controls more territory now than at any time since the 2001 US invasion and occupation began. SIGAR’s recent estimates on Taliban control aren’t far out of line with the Taliban’s own report, as they split it into three segments, controlled, heavily influenced, or contested, and said the Taliban had 9, 32, and 133, respectively. The Taliban has, naturally gained ground since that report.

To put it in further context, SIGAR claims 83 districts are controlled by the Afghan government, and 150 are heavily influenced. Out of Afghanistan’s 398 districts, that means that even the US estimate is that the Afghan government controls only 20.8%.

The reports suggest, unsurprisingly, that the Taliban’s deepest control is in Afghanistan’s southwest. The Taliban, of course, controls much of the Helmand Province, and is almost always expanding territory in the area, though they have a presence and are contesting territory nationwide.

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