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Default Taliban Captures Key Helmand District After Afghan Forces Decide to Pull Out - 02-22-2016, 04:30 PM

https://news.vice.com/article/taliba...de-to-pull-out


Taliban Captures Key Helmand District After Afghan Forces Decide to Pull Out





By Reuters News Agency
February 20, 2016 |

Afghan forces have pulled out of bases in Musa Qala, a strategic district of the southern province of Helmand, after months of heavy fighting with Taliban insurgents, officials said on Saturday.
Helmand, a traditional heartland of the Taliban and one of the world's biggest centers of opium production, has been threatened for months, and the United States recently sent hundreds of soldiers to the province to bolster its defense.
The commander of the Afghan army's 215th corps, Mohammad Moeen Faqir, said troops had been ordered to pull back from Roshan Tower, their main base in Musa Qala, as well as other checkpoints to reinforce Gereshk, straddling the main Highway One which links Kabul with the south and west.
"Their presence in the area did not mean anything," he said. "We will use them in battle with enemies in other parts of Helmand province."


Fierce fighting has raged in Musa Qala and other parts of Helmand for months and the Taliban overran the district in August last year before they were driven back by Afghan forces backed by US airstrikes.
Musa Qala itself is a dry and sparsely inhabited district that British and American troops fought hard to control between 2006 and 2008, but its loss could bring further losses elsewhere, including Sangin where government forces have been clinging on.
"Now that the government has withdrawn its forces from this district, we will see Kajaki, Gereshk and Sangin collapsing very soon," said deputy provincial council member Abdul Majid Akhundzada.
The Taliban said in a statement it had captured armored personnel carriers, bulldozers, and other equipment abandoned in Roshan Tower and nine other checkpoints.
The withdrawal prompted speculation among local officials that the government had reached an arrangement with the Taliban, but Abdul Jabar Qahraman, presidential envoy for security affairs in Helmand, denied any such pact.
"There wasn't any deal," he said. "We learnt that there was no need to continue the fight in that area."
No comment was immediately available from the Ministry of Defense in Kabul.
The outgoing commander of international forces, General John Campbell, recently sent hundreds of American troops to Helmand, where they assist and train Afghan forces but do not fight.


A spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul said its aim remained to train, advise and assist and referred questions on Afghan troop movements to the defense ministry.
US officials estimate the Taliban dominates or threatens almost a third of the country and has full control over at least four districts. Although it briefly took the northern city of Kunduz last year, it does not control any provincial capitals.
Although Helmand has been one of the provinces most at risk, the Taliban have been pushing forward across the country, putting severe strain on government troops, fighting alone since international forces ended most combat operations in 2014.
Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews


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Default Afghan Troops Retreat Under Pressure From Taliban - 02-22-2016, 04:35 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/wo...m-taliban.html


Afghan Troops Retreat Under Pressure From Taliban

By MUJIB MASHALFEB. 20, 2016




LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — The last of the Afghan forces have pulled out of the strategic district of Musa Qala in southern Helmand Province, officials said on Saturday, months after the Taliban overran most of the district and kept them holed up in desert outposts.
The retreat, which had many politicians here mystified, was the latest blow to a province that had been teetering for months. Now, the resurgent Taliban insurgents either control or are contesting 10 of its 14 districts, extending the fighting to Babaji, a suburb so close to the provincial capital that residents of the city could hear the clashes at night.
Col. Mohammad Rasoul Zazai, a spokesman for the Afghan Army’s 215th Maiwand Corps in Helmand, said the military leadership had decided that it was more effective to pull out the remaining troops and reinforce bases elsewhere in the province.
“We don’t have troops in Musa Qala anymore,” Colonel Zazai said.


Other officials said the decision was made to avoid further casualties to a reeling force because the army units were under severe pressure from the Taliban, making reinforcement and resupply difficult.


But Abdul Majid Akhundzada, the deputy chief of the Helmand provincial council, said that the posts had not been under immediate threat and that he had no reports of the Taliban attacking them in recent days.
The withdrawal was not without incident, as some of the retreating troops were ambushed on Saturday morning by insurgents in the Paposhta area of the Now Zad district.
Many in Helmand fear that the government, struggling against the Taliban offensive, is now concentrating its forces around crucial territories, such as the provincial capital, the main highway and the hydroelectric dam in the Kajaki district, while allowing the Taliban to hold other areas.
“It seems that the central government is planning to leave the northern districts to the Taliban,” said Bashir Ahmad Shakir, chairman of the security committee of the provincial council. “Once you pull out your troops from volatile locations, how would you be able to place them again?”
He added, “We are losing Helmand.”
Helmand is the world’s most important opium-growing region. Its southern edge flanks the porous border with Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership is based, and the province was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting between the Taliban and foreign troops before the NATO combat mission ended in 2014.
Alarm about the deteriorating situation in the province led the American military command to announce on Feb. 9 that it was sending a crack United States Army battalion to Helmand to protect the current Special Operations troops in Helmand and to stiffen the resolve of the Afghan forces there.
Some of the fiercest fighting between NATO forces and the Taliban took place in Musa Qala before it was brought under government control in 2007, with a Taliban commander switching sides to become district governor. Its location at the center of three other districts fiercely contested by the Taliban could help the insurgents carve a corridor from Baghran, a border territory controlled by them for years, to Laskar Gah.
After months of fierce fighting, the Taliban have effectively overrun the district of Sangin, with Afghan forces barely holding on to its center with heavy casualties. They have also made inroads in the Kajaki and Now Zad districts.
“The pullout from Musa Qala will definitely affect the situation in neighboring Kajaki and Greshk, which are already under serious threat,” said Mr. Akhundzada, the provincial official.
Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan, and David Jolly from Kabul.


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Default 02-23-2016, 08:35 AM

Quote:
The Taliban said in a statement it had captured armored personnel carriers, bulldozers, and other equipment abandoned in Roshan Tower and nine other checkpoints.
This is a lie. The army and police forces burned anything useful and destroyed them, including their outposts and bases. Carriers, if they had oil, were taken to the next base otherwise destroyed.

Those who believe this is the results of mighty Taliban insurgency in the south I must disapprove as well the claims of some uninformed government officials who still believe the Kabul government has full control over the situation and their lifes. Once the Taliban knock on their doors in the capital of Helmand they will realize their situation.
This scenario was planned and constructed by US and British security officials and advisers already in 2009. Today we are witness of that policy they created for Afghanistan (south Afghanistan) then. It means, they are going in cooperation with their western ''technocrate'' puppets in Kabul to handover southern Afghanistan to Taliban (Pakistan´s devided ISI forces) and at the same time alot of local southern soldiers or government forces defected to Taliban (''Hostage Crisis''). Only Kandahar will be supported by Kabul and US forces.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...eace-deal.html
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