Afghan security officials in Helmand Province describe the winter push this year as “much worse than previous years,” with Taliban fighters engaging in massive offensives long after they’d normally have returned to the mountains to winter over for a new spring offensive.
Having gained territory they don’t want to lose, the Taliban never stopped this year’s spring offensive, and seems to be planning to fight through the winter. Officials say they have reports the Taliban’s leadership ordered three more districts in Helmand seized by January, and the fighters seem determined to do that.
The Taliban moved into the northern portions of Helmand in June, following the US pullout, and continues to expand its control throughout the province, fighting protracted battles with Afghan forces.
Helmand is a particularly important territory for the Taliban to have significant control over, as it is one of the largest opium producers in the nation, and by extension on the planet. Taliban control of districts in Helmand ensures them access to that revenue.