UN Report: Around 45,000 Opposition Fighters in Afghanistan

About 25% of the Fighters Are Foreigners

A new report being circulated by the United Nations reveals a growing number of opposition fighters in Afghanistan, some 15 years after the initial US-led invasion and occupation of the country, with the most recent estimates suggesting about 45,000 opposition fighters present in the country.

While these figures are generally dominated by the Taliban insurgency, it also includes a significant ISIS affiliate in the country, along with al-Qaeda supporters and others simply described by the UN as “bad actors.” An estimated 20-25% of the fighters are foreigners.

The opposition fighter figure is never exactly a clear number, but the trend has definitely been toward growth, with NATO estimates of 25,000 to 30,000 in 2010 growing to 35,000 by mid-2012. The foreign fighters in the country are a significant factor, including a large number of Pakistanis and Uzbeks.

This growth is in spite of ever-increasing efforts to control the Afghan-Pakistan border, as well as claims of massive death tolls by the Afghan government in attacks against both Taliban and ISIS forces.

The increase in opposition fighters makes sense, however, in the context of the growing percentage of the country under opposition control, with recent reports suggesting that only 63.4% of Afghanistan can rightly be called under control anymore.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.