Resurgent Taliban Contesting More Land in Afghanistan

Even though the Afghan forces’ capabilities are growing, the resurgent Taliban and the growth of ISIS in Afghanistan has limited the amount of territory the government actually controls, the head of the US mission said. Afghan Security Forces hold about 64 percent of the national population, a drop from about 68 percent earlier this fall. The Taliban actually holds about 10 percent of the total Afghan population, but more areas are contested, said Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. The Taliban has not been able to amass in large numbers, and instead has focused on attacking Afghan outposts and checkpoints, along with higher profile attacks in population centers like Kabul. “This did not succeed in causing any cities to fall,” Nicholson said. “They have also conducted high-profile attacks … that have resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties, but the overall number of high-profile attacks is lower than last year.” For example, there were 12 high profile attacks in Kabul this year, compared to 18 last year.