NATO spokesman James Appathurai condemned a report by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) as not credible today, after it concluded that the Taliban has a “permanent presence” in 72 percent of Afghanistan. The Afghan government likewise criticized the report for a “questionable methodology.”
The ICOS defines a permanent presence as an average of at least one insurgent attack per week over the entire year. The Afghan government feels this unfairly includes “sporadic, terrorizing activities” by the Taliban. NATO insists “the Taliban are only present in the south and east which is already less than 50 percent of the country.”
Exactly how NATO reached this determination is unclear, but the US air strike in Herat Province was ostensibly targeted at the Taliban, and Herat Province is in the northwestern corner of the nation. Likewise, reports of police defections to the Taliban also place Taliban forces in the area along the Iranian border of Herat.
The ICOS report also says that the Taliban are “closing a noose” around the Afghan capital of Kabul. The report says that Kabul was virtually Taliban-free a year ago, but the well-documented growth of Taliban influence in the area is leading to an increase in attacks. The US is reportedly planning to deploy much of a combat brigade into the region in an attempt to regain control of the area.