Afghan forces struggle to break Taliban siege in Farah
MP Homayoun Shahidzadah, who represents Farah province, says
security situation in Farah is deteriorating. A security ‘catastrophe’ may take
place in Pusht-e-Koh district if the government does not take security measure,
he warned. “Around 100 Afghan security forces are under siege by the Taliban in
Pusht-e-Koh district,” Mr. Shahidzadah told Kabul Now. According to the MP,
Afghan security forces, under siege by the Taliban, are facing food shortages. He
accused the central government of ignoring the province. He says the local
government is not able to defend the people and break the siege.
The Taliban have gained more territory in western Farah
province, say locals and local officials. According to them, most of Farah
districts are either under control or besieged by the Taliban militants.
Masood Bakhtawar, Farah’s deputy governor, confirmed that the
Taliban have increased attacks and threats against Afghan defense and security
forces in the district. But he rejected the news of Taliban besieging the
Afghan security forces.
Truck drivers are forced to pay money extortion
The Taliban insurgents have been forcing Afghan truck
drivers to pay money extortion. Money extortion, illegal mining and drug traffic
are said to make the main financial resource that keeps Taliban’s war machine
According to local officials, the
Taliban have planted roadside bombs across the road connecting Farah’s capital
city with Shaikh Abu Nasr Farahi port in the province. Afghan truck drivers,
who import and export merchandise from and to Iran, are forced to use the rout
passing through Taliban controlled areas of Pusht-e-Koh district.
“The Taliban have changed the transit route,”
Said Mr. Bakhtawar. “The Taliban are collecting taxes and have [established]
customs offices. We have launched operations several times but the Taliban tax
collection systems is still in place.”
Dadullah Qaneh, a member of Farah Provincial
Council, claims that the Taliban are getting stronger day-by-day. “The war will
intensify, if the Taliban customs are not wiped out,” he warned, complaining
that the Afghan government is silent over the issue.
Government assures of
imminent military operation
Shibkoh, a Farah district bordering
with Iran in the west, is under control by the Taliban. The government forces
have control just over compounds and surrounding of the military battalion
headquarter in Pusht-e-Koh district.
Masood Bakhtawar, however, assured that an imminent military
operation, backed by air force, will be launched to clear Pusht-e-Koh district
of the presence of the Taliban. “The supplements of army force have already
been sent to Farah,” he said.
Belqis Roshan, a female MP, who represents Farah in the
parliament, however, expresses doubt over promises made by the local
administration, including its recent one about launching military operation. She
said that the government was not able to restore a sustainable telecom
services. According to locals, the telecommunication companies are just
operating for three hours a day due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban.
Local residents, talked to Kabul Now, say residents of
Pusht-e-Koh district are living in dire situation in outskirt of Farah capital
city. Mr. Qaneh said that the displaced people are forced to live inside
A civil society activist of the province, Abdul Nasir Farahi,
claimed that shops and residential houses were looted in bazaar of Pusht-e-Kho
A likely catastrophe
According to MP Shahidzada, the Taliban are targeting Afghan
security forces with heavy weapons such as mortar and missile in Pusht-e-Koh
district while Afghan security forces have nothing to eat. “Security forces are
spending days and nights facing tough hardships in a dire situation. The
ministries of defense and interior have not provided any assistance for them,”
MP Roshan warns that Taliban attacks are likely to intensify if an extensive clearance operation is not conducted in the province.
The western Farah province has strategic importance for the Taliban insurgents. It borders with Helmand, Nimroz and Herat provinces. The province is contested between the government forces and the Taliban insurgents who took brief controls over the capital Farah city in previous years but the Afghan security forces pushed them back.