Taliban insurgents have captured a third district in western Afghanistan, local officials said on Monday, defying Western assertions the rebels are unable to mount large military offensives.
The hardline Islamist Taliban relaunched their insurgency two years ago to topple the pro-Western Afghan government and eject the 50,000 foreign troops, expanding their operations further from the mainly Pashtun south where they are strongest.
Western forces say the Taliban’s greater reliance this year on suicide and roadside bombs is a result of heavy battlefield casualties they and Afghan troops have inflicted on the rebels and the insurgents’ inability to hold ground.
But in the last week, the Taliban have captured three districts in the western province of Farah, bordering Iran, forcing lightly armed Afghan police to flee and defying Afghan and foreign forces to retake the lost ground. [complete article]