A strategically important part of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, and a major route in the nation’s opium trade, the Sangin District has fallen today to the Taliban, with Afghan forces fleeing the district center and relocating to a place near the outskirts.
The Taliban has been making gains across Helmand for over a year now, and the capture of Sangin, or at least most of it, is just the last blow to the Afghan security forces, despite officials from both the Kabul government and the Pentagon trying to downplay the loss as temporary.
Sangin District has been one of the most contested districts in all of Afghanistan since the 2001 occupation began, and more US Marines and British soldiers have died in that district than any other across Afghanistan during the war.
The Taliban last made a serious run at controlling the district in December of 2015, taking some key areas within and killing large numbers of Afghan security forces. This culminated in a February 2016 raid against local police, who officials accused of “aiding the Taliban.”
While a lot of the Taliban’s gains in high-profile districts are indeed temporary, as Afghan and NATO reinforcements eventually expel them, overall the trend continues of the Taliban increasing its territory nationwide, and they control more land now in Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 invasion and occupation began.