Afghan forces make progress against Taliban in Takhar
A day before presidential election, on September 27, the
Taliban launched heavy attacks on Khajaghar, Chahe Ab, and Baharak district of
the northern Takhar province. Concerned by the attacks, local residents held
protests and warned of a possible collapse of the provincial capital, Taloqan.
Based on remarks made by local and security officials, the Afghan forces have upper hand on the battlefield but they still face strong resistance by the militants. They said that Baharak, Yangiqala, and Khajaghar districts have been cleared from the presence of the militants. The official said the Afghan forces have pushed back the Taliban insurgents from suburb of Taloqan.
Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense
(MoD), said they will launch clearance operation in Darqad district in the next
week—the district fell to the Taliban around three weeks ago. He stated that
deputy defense minister, Yasin Zia, deputy interior minister, and deputy NDS
chief are on the field to command operation against the insurgents. He added
that the operation will continue until complete clearance of the province from
According to Ahmadzai, around 100 Taliban militants
including some of the group senior commanders have been killed while a few
number of Afghan forces have just sustained some injuries in the operation.
Jawad Hejri, spokesperson for Takhar governor, however,
confirmed that five member of uprising forces—local militias that back Afghan
forces—were killed when mistaken airstrike hit them. “The airstrike was
conducted by the Resolute Support to target Taliban militants,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Ahmadzai stressed that operations will be launched in Kunduz and Baghlan provinces. “These operations will be carried out in all northern provinces,” he reiterated.
Although previously the Taliban had recaptured districts
after end of military operations, the defense ministry this time assures that
sufficient forces will remain in the liberated areas to prevent collapse of the
districts. “Out of nine district cleared from the Taliban in recent year, no
one has collapsed,” Ahmadzi stated.
Human costs of the war
The battles erupted recently between the warring sides have left a huge negative impact on the livelihood of the local residents, forcing the locals to leave their livelihoods and seek shelter in the capital city of Takhar.
Hejri says these battles have displaced around 2,700
families from Baharak and Khajaghar districts to refugee camps in Taloqan. He
assures that aid agencies have provided the internally displaced people (IDP)
with the required facilities and shelters. “Around 40 percent of the refugees
have repatriated to their homes after the clearance of Khajaghar and Baharak
districts,” he added.
On the other hand, Esmatullah Qurbani, member of Takhar
provincial council, told Kabul Now that the Taliban used civilian houses as
human shield in their attacks on the two districts.
“The Taliban are taking children with themselves and even
use women burqa in some cases,” the ministry’s spokesman added.
Mohammad Azam Afzali, another member of Takhar provincial council,
said that a civilian was killed and two others injured in the recent battle
with the Taliban.
“The Taliban have even planted landmines inside schools and
security forces have diffused them,” he stated, adding that the militants set
fire on civilian houses, shops, and state facilities when suffered defeat in
But the governor spokesperson, Hejri, claimed that in
addition to planting landmines, the Taliban looted some civilian houses.
Taliban recruitment in madrassas
Provincial councilman, Afzali, claims most of the Taliban
fighters are students who have studied in religious schools, madrassas, in the
province. “Most of religious schools train the children and young people and
send them to frontlines when they get skilled,” he said, noting that the
Taliban had recruited from all religious schools operating in the province, in
their attacks on Baharak district.
He criticized that the local government did not have any
oversight on the operation of religious schools in the province.
According to Afzali, most of the Taliban commanders who lead
the ongoing Taliban fight in the province are residents of the province. He
mentioned Mawlawi Hassan, Taliban’s shadow governor for Takhar, Mawlawi
Nooruddin, the group’s shadow governor for Samangan, Mullah Rasool and Mawlawi
Kabeer, another two senior commanders of the group are living in the province.