Taliban forces that entered the Helmand provincial capital of Lashkar Gah last week are still there, and fighting over the city is still intense. The Afghan government is appearing more upbeat about the fighting, of late, claiming that they’ve killed hundreds of fighters in the last 24 hours.
Gen. Wali Ahmadzai reported the death toll, saying it was the result of a heavy attack by Afghan troops and police, and “in some cases aided by American airstrikes and special forces advisers.” Taliban officials confirmed the fighting, but did not discuss death tolls.
Hundreds in 24 hours would be a very large death toll, given the way fighting in and around Helmand tends to go, but is not entirely impossible, as around 100 Afghan police trying to flee Lashkar Gah were captured and killed by the Taliban during the initial push.
Helmand is hugely valuable to the insurgency because of its role in Afghanistan’s opium poppy farming industry, and the Taliban controls the bulk of the province. The capture of Lashkar Gah would cement that control, and indications are that despite the heavy resistance the Taliban isn’t looking to shift away from the fight.