Over the weekend, Taliban forces overran a major police base in Badakhshan, in northeastern Afghanistan, routing the force and capturing some 110 police, who they later disarmed and released. That was a huge defeat, but just one of many as the Taliban racks up victories across the nation’s north.
The latest offensives have the Taliban capturing a major district is Sar-e Pul Province, once again forcing the police to surrender and chasing a garrison of 200 soldiers into the neighboring province. The Taliban also made new advances into Kunduz Province, the main target of their spring offensive, forcing several government-allied militias into retreat.
Afghan Defense Ministry officials downplayed the losses, saying a few districts here and there were “not something to panic about,” and that they’d eventually retake them. The defenders who lost those districts, however, complain they were not supported by the central government with reinforcements to hold them in the first place.
The Afghan military has struggled with recruitment for years, as a combination of attrition and mass desertion has kept their ranks teeming with new, poorly-trained recruits, and while officials continue to downplay the defeats, the routs suggest that they simply aren’t able to effectively support defenders in much of the country, and are relying on random militia allies to carry the battles. With larger Taliban forces, that’s losing them territory.