Taliban take key Afghan district in south; 9 killed in north

Cheryl Sanders
April 4, 2017

Taliban fighters on March 23 captured Afghanistan's strategic district of Sangin, where USA and British forces suffered heavy casualties until it was handed over to Afghan personnel.

Taliban fighters have captured the strategic district of Sangin in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials said on Thursday. Hundreds of U.S. Marines were killed in Helmand fighting the Taliban.

Afghanistan, Dalil said, shared the sorrow and pain of the Pakistani people, and that Kabul remained committed to "state-to-state cooperation with Pakistan based on the principles of mutual respect and non-intervention".

According to usa estimates, government forces control less than 60 percent of Afghanistan, with nearly half the country either contested or under the control of the insurgents, who are seeking to reimpose Islamic law after their 2001 ouster. "We hope the deliberations in this meeting would be focused on this objective", he said.

President Donald Trump has yet to speak to US strategy in Afghanistan, the longest-running war in USA history at 16 years. "There are deeper issues that need to be addressed - such as why IS managed to develop a presence in Afghanistan in the first place - and these are issues that can't be addressed by the us military". In 2013, control of the district was handed over to the Afghan military, which continued suffering heavy losses, despite support from American Special operations forces and airstrikes.

The United States won't attend a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan next month in Russian Federation, a State Department official said Thursday.

The fall of Sangin on Thursday came amid the insurgents' year-long push to expand their footprint in the Taliban heartland. The U.S. actively supported Afghan insurgent forces, known as the Mujahideen, providing them money, arms and eventually the infamous Stinger missile.

Also, US drones continue to target the Taliban militants on both sides of the border.

"This move to a new district center has been planned for some time", Stump added.

Sangin is also one of the biggest opium markets in Afghanistan, which saw over 4,800 metric tons produced countrywide in 2016 _ more than all other opium-producing countries combined, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. A USA spokesperson played down the development: A spokesman for the American military, Capt. William K. Salvin, played down the development, saying Afghan security forces were still in the district and had merely moved its seat of government. "Sangin's location is very, very important", said General Abdul Jabar Qahraman, President Ashraf Ghani's personal military envoy to Helmand province, who recently offered his resignation over widespread corruption that he says is undermining the government's efforts there.

Afghanistan has repeatedly asked India to increase military assistance, as it struggles to fight Afghan Taliban insurgents who have taken swathes of territory since most foreign troops left the country in late 2014.

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