In a recent briefing (Jul 24) to foreign diplomats in Afghanistan, the Afghan Foreign Ministry (AFM) highlighted that since April 14, 2021 Taliban had intensified their violent campaign across the country with over 5,000 attacks. They had seized 193 district centres & 19 border districts and while the ANDSF had recaptured 09 district centres, over 200 district centres remained out of the government’s control. The Taliban had also taken control of 10 border crossing points across the country in Takhar, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Herat & Farah provinces leading to complete shutdown of cross border movements and trade in these areas. It was further disclosed that since April 14, nearly 4000 ANDSF personnel had been killed, over 7000 injured and about 1600 captured by the Taliban. 2000 civilians, including women and children had also died in the violence and another 2200 injured.

The AFM noted that Taliban’s military offensive was supported by Pak ISI and it was trying to align the Taliban with Haqqani network and Al- Qaeda. It was further claimed that recently LeT, JeM, Tanzim ul Badr and other Pak extremist groups had set up three new major camps in Tera agency area in Pak to mobilize their followers with Taliban in Afghanistan. Pak terrorist groups, including TTP, Lashkar Tayiba, Lashkar Islam, JeM, Jamaat ul Ahrar, Tanzim ul Badr & Lashkar Jangawi, were fighting in Eastern provinces like Kunar, Nooristan and Nangarhar and were also fighting along with the Taliban and Haqqani network in Ghazani, Logar, Khost, Paktia, Kandahar, Zabul & Helmand provinces. Pak military was reportedly assisting Taliban in setting up training camps in Eastern provinces and also in recruitment. The LeT had deployed around 7000 of their fighters in Eastern Afghanistan. Other Pak based radical groups had also entered Nangarhar province.

Afghan security forces assess that Al-Qaeda was supporting Taliban by setting up training centres in Uruzgan province and trying to exploit the current situation to expand its base in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda and Haqqani network were also trying to increase their presence in Paktia province and establish a base for their fighters in Helmand province. It was assessed that the Al-Qaeda aimed at making Afghanistan as its main safe haven once more.

Meanwhile, highlighting the atrocities and human rights violations committed by the Taliban in areas under their control, it was pointed out that the Taliban had issued orders in Takhar and Badakshan for registering girls above 15 years old and widows under 45 years to marry Taliban fighters and send them to Islamic madrassas in Waziristan for indoctrination. They had also issued diktats for young men to enlist in Taliban ranks or pay money for exemption. Inputs of Taliban shooting down persons in public, amputating hands, chopping of heads, public flogging had also been reported in Herat, Wardak & Faryab provinces. In Takhar, they had also issued laws prohibiting women to leave their homes and making it compulsory for men to grow beards.

Destruction of public infrastructure by Taliban, like schools, hospital, government buildings, telecommunication facilities, plundering public properties and vandalizing them, including attempting to blow up the Salma dam in Western Herat province, have also been underlined. The escalation of violence and the ensuing displacement of civilians, with UNHCR reporting about 4.8 million Afghans being internally displaced and 2.5 million migrating abroad, highlighting the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the country.

In latest development, Afghan Defence Ministry reported that 226 Taliban terrorists were killed (Jul 29-30) and 135 others were injured as a result of ANDSF operations in Kunar, Paktia, Maidan, Wardak, Kandahar, Herat, Jowzjan, Lehmand Baghlan, and Kabul provinces. 15 IEDs were also defused by the Afghan National Army and Taliban offensives were repulsed in Herat & Guzara & Karokh districts in Herat province.