Afghan government controlling fewer districts, says SIGAR

Seventeen years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan the current government controls or influences 226 of the country's 407 districts- or 55.5

Seventeen years after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan the current government controls or influences 226 of the country's 407 districts- or 55.5

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) highlighted in its latest quarterly report on October 31 about the heavy pressure on the government in Kabul.

Back-channel diplomacy between the Taliban and a range of countries - including the United States - has taken place over the years to end the latest phase of Afghanistan's decades of war, which began with a USA invasion in 2001.

Reports by global aid organisations have suggested the group controls or contests around 40 percent of the country's districts.

The U.S., along with a number of fellow-NATO members, invaded Afghanistan in 2001, toppling a Taliban regime in control of most of the country at the time, but it has failed to restore security in the country plagued by militancy and terrorism. The balance - 132 districts - are considered "contested" between the government and insurgent groups. The control of Afghanistan's districts, population, and territory overall became more contested this quarter, with both the Afghan government and the insurgency losing districts and land area under their control or influence. Of the remaining districts, SIGAR assessed that 49 were under insurgent control or influence (12 percent).

Bill Roggio, an Afghanistan expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told AFP such a scenario is unlikely.

Roggio, who runs a website called Long War Journal, co-wrote a piece in which he assessed that more than half the Afghan population now lives outside of government control.

Hundreds of people, including scores of civilians, have been killed in Taliban attacks in recent weeks.

He escaped unhurt, but US Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 people wounded in the shooting, which the Taliban said had targeted Miller and Raziq.

The figures suggest President Donald Trump's strategy for Afghanistan, unveiled 14 months ago, is not resolving the US stalemate with the Taliban.

Figures for casualties suffered by Afghan security forces are no longer available after Washington previous year agreed to Kabul's request to classify the numbers. When factoring in injuries, total casualties had declined slightly in the first six months of this year to 5,122, down from 5,272 last year.

"Unclassified data show the ANDSF made minimal or no progress in pressuring the Taliban over the quarter". The White House claims the American troops are deployed in Afghanistan to train Afghan forces and conduct counter-terrorist missions against militant groups.

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