Afghanistan: Who controls what

Nearly 18 years after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the armed group is still active across war-torn Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan following an invasion by the United States in 2001, the armed group’s control over parts of the country has fluctuated widely. 

According to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), as of January 31 last year, 229 districts were under the Afghan government’s control, which is about 56.3 percent of the total Afghan districts. 

On the other hand, 59 districts, approximately 14.5 percent of all, were under the Taliban control.

The remaining 119 districts, about 29.2 percent, remain contested – controlled by neither the Afghan government nor the rebels.

In February 2018, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani invited Taliban to “unconditional” peace talks, offering to recognise it as a legitimate political force in the country’s future.

The Taliban ruled out any negotiation with the Kabul government, and offered to talk to US officials instead.

Fighting between the Taliban and security forces has intensified since the armed group announced its annual spring offensive in April this year.

Violence spread across Afghanistan in recent weeks with heavy fighting taking place in the provinces of Badakhshan, Baghlan and Faryab in the north and Farah in the west.

In May, the Taliban said it would not target Afghan police and military personnel if they left their posts.

The Taliban has said it “categorically rejects” a statement made by the US commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan about “off-stage” dialogue taking place between Afghan officials and the armed group.

In the run-up to the parliamentary elections in October last year, 10 candidates were killed during the campaigning by the Taliban, while 33 seats remained vacant due to the violence.

The new parliament was sworn in April this year.

The Taliban stage near-daily attacks and though they are negotiating with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the armed group refuses to talk directly to Ghani’s government, calling it a “puppet” of the West.

The ongoing negotiations mark the highest level of talks between the two sides since the US ramped up peace efforts last year.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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