After two days of fighting, Afghan government forces claim to have resumed control of Qala-e Naw, the capital of Badghis province, in northwestern Afghanistan, on Thursday (July 8). The government had sent hundreds of commandos there by helicopter to counter the Taliban offensive.
On Wednesday, the Taliban launched a first assault on a provincial capital since the beginning of the last phase of the withdrawal of American troops. They seized the main government buildings in the city of 75,000 people, including the police headquarters, and freed hundreds of inmates from the city jail.
Zia Gul Habibi, a member of Badghis provincial council, reported fighting “Sporadic” in the city. “Some members of the security forces who have joined the Taliban are helping and guiding them”, he lamented. The rest of the territory of Badghis province remains in the hands of the Taliban.
Complicated stage of the transition, according to the Afghan president
The country crosses “One of the most complicated stages of the transition” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani admitted Thursday. “The international forces are returning to their respective countries after twenty years here, but the country can be controlled”, he assured in a speech, confident in the capacity of his government to manage the crisis.
In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that most British troops have now left Afghanistan as part of the withdrawal of forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is taking place in parallel to that of the Americans. “I will not reveal the timetable for our withdrawal, but I can tell the House that most of our troops have already left”, he declared in front of the deputies. The President of the United States, Joe Biden, is due to speak on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, after a meeting with his national security team.
According to a security official, the offensive also “Affected neighboring provinces” including that of Herat, bordering Iran, where a border district of Badghis fell into the hands of the insurgents during the night. Local officials and insurgents say a total of two districts in Herat were taken overnight.
Ross Wilson, the American charge d’affaires, criticized the Badghis offensive which he said “Violates human rights”. According to Human Rights Watch, the Taliban evicted people from their homes and looted or burned down some homes.
Negotiations in Tehran
In the hope of restarting negotiations between the two camps, a meeting between Taliban representatives and a delegation from the Afghan government ended Thursday in Tehran, according to IRNA, the Iranian public news agency.
If both sides have called for an end to the fighting and advocated more discussion, the official talks between Kabul and the insurgents, launched in September 2020 in Doha, have stalled.
According to Western security officials, the Taliban have conquered around 100 districts. The insurgents claim to hold 200 districts in 34 provinces, or more than half of the territory. The main cities and provincial capitals remain under government control.