Taliban on the offensive: Insurgents seize more land in Afghanistan’s north-east

Taliban militants have taken control over the Baharak district in the Afghan province of Badakhshan, according to local media reports. The extremists are continuing their violent push across the country.

The Baharak district witnessed heavy clashes with Taliban militants on Friday, with numerous reports suggesting that the area fell to the insurgents’ control. The disctrict lies just 30-40 km away from the provincial capital of Faizabad. According to Afghan media, the insurgents entered Baharak in the afternoon from neighboring Wardujб which had been seized by the Taliban on Thursday.

“If the collapse of Warduj and Baharak districts to Taliban not handled, this will bring Faizabad, center of the province under threat,” Afghan parliament member, Fawzia Kofi, told local media.

“Unfortunately, the government has not been able to deploy the forces in a good way in Badakhshan, the forces do not have serious determination to fight,” another Afghan MP Amanullah Paiman said.

"Our forces did not get reinforcements on time," Nawid Forotan, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said, commenting on the loss of the Warduj district in Badakhshan. “Taliban were in big numbers, therefore our forces retreated,” he added.

The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that militants killed 50 soldiers and captured 28 checkpoints in the Badakhshan province, which has been fiercely fought over for years.

In response to the militants’ actions, Afghan security forces launched a military campaign aimed at retaking the two districts in the Badakhshan province as the Taliban seized strategic positions along the key roads to the Tajikistani Pakistani and Chinese borders, Reuters reports.

“We have launched operation in the area,” a defense ministry spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, told local media.

"Issues which have emerged in Badakhshan are under our study and soon we will address these issues," spokesman to the Afghan Interior Ministry, Sediq Sediqqi, said.

The governor of the Badakhshan province, Shahwaliullah Adeeb, also claimed that a Taliban commander acting as a “shadow governor” of the province had been recently killed in an airstrike alongside with 12 other militants adding that security forces are now countering the Taliban attacks in the district of Baharak.

Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency also reports that heavy clashes are underway in the Zar Ab district of the northern Afghan Jawzjan province adjacent to the border with Tajikistan.

READ MORE: Taliban insurgents seize 4 districts in Afghanistan – local media

On Thursday, Taliban forces seized as many as four districts in different parts of Afghanistan after the militants were mostly forces out of the country’s northern city of Kunduz.

The insurgents overran Tala wa Barfak and Qala Zal districts in northern Afghanistan, adjacent to the Tajikistan border as well as the Khwaja Ghar district north-west of the capital Kabul, Afghan news agency Pajhwok reported, citing officials.

Sporadic clashes are still occurring even in the fifth largest Afghan city, Kunduz, which was seized by militants on Monday but mostly retaken by government forces by Thursday.

Although most insurgents have fled the city, some of them holed in civilian homes and are still fighting the Afghan army.

"The Taliban who knew Kunduz left the city already, but many foreign fighters could not flee and are hiding in people's homes in some parts of the city center and are still resisting," Ahmad Sahil, a producer for local Afghan television told Reuters.

The governor of Kunduz Province, Hamdullah Danishi, claimed that there had been "no major fighting" in the city, although he admitted that the insurgents had not been completely driven from Kunduz.

"Taliban are still in civilian houses and buildings. They are using civilians as human shields," he said as quoted by Reuters.

The recent developments in Afghanistan could force the US to review the situation and retain a troop presence in the country for a longer period of time, Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani Leutenant General told RT in an interview.

“The people of Afghanistan are suffering, it really does not matter [for them], who wins. The people of Afghanistan are losing all the time because of this conflict and because of the intervention of the foreign forces,” he added.