Taliban Controls Much of Key Afghan Provincial Capital

Army orders civilians to flee, many are trapped

Mounting Taliban gains have them on the brink of seizing a strategically important city, the Helmand Provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. The Taliban controls nine of ten districts in the city.

The Afghan military is trying to contest this, but even with US airstrikes backing them, the city seems to be heading toward falling outright. The military went on to issue an order for all civilians to leave Lashkar Gah.

The order might be a bit late. Residents who can leave are leaving, of course, reporting bodies in the streets and rapid Taliban advances. In many parts of the city, however, fighting makes trying to leave just plain too dangerous.

Locals describe army vehicles destroyed on the roads, and a number of Taliban that they find astonishing given how recently they’ve arrived in a lot of places. The locals furthermore say that despite the government talking about new commando deployments, there are no signs of new government forces.

Helmand is a valuable province for the Taliban, both because of its role in the opium trade and because it is on the main highway, close to other cities that the Taliban are also seeking gains on.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.