Taliban fighters in the Helmand Province attacked a local marketplace in the contested Gereshk District, sparking some 12 hours of open conflict with security forces. At least 40 Taliban were reported killed, along with an undisclosed number of Afghan government fighters.
Taliban forces control a large chunk of the Helmand province, and are always looking to expand deeper into contested areas, where Afghan security forces are often low of manpower and supplies, and can at times be quickly routed before reinforcements arrive.
The Gereshk District has been the site of a lot of fighting in recent weeks, including an incident in late July where a US drone attacked what they thought were massing Taliban, but turned out to be Afghan police, killing 15 of them.
The Taliban’s territory gains are well beyond Helmand, of course, and they control more territory than at any time since 2001. Helmand, however, is a key priority because of its role in the lucrative opium trade.
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