Afghan forces losing control of the country, report warns

Lester Mason
May 1, 2018

"Between 2001 and 2012, on the average, we were losing at least three journalists in Afghanistan every year, but you know that this figure increased to 20 cases in 2017, but in 2018 you see that eleven journalists were killed in less than a week", said Sediqullah Tawhidi, a member of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.

Insurgents in Afghanistan are gaining strength while government forces are losing personnel, a US watchdog told Congress Tuesday, a day after at least 31 people were killed in extremist bombings in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The killing of Afghan journalist Abdul Manan Arghand, by unknown armed men in Kandahar last week, the targeted killing of nine journalists by Daesh in Kabul on Monday and the killing of BBC Pashto reporter Ahmad Shah also on Monday has been a devastating blow to the Afghan media community.

Afghanistan has been battered by insurgency over the past couple of decades with the presence of different militant groups including the most dominant Taliban, in addition to al-Qaida and recently the Islamic States. These figures represent a sharp decline in strength from the same period past year: "the ANA saw a 4,818-person decrease, and the ANP a 23,210-person decrease, for a total of 35,999 fewer personnel in January 2018 compared to January 2017", according to SIGAR.

It comes as the Pentagon claims that Afghan troops and US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces are making steady progress in the grueling conflict that has raged for almost 17 years.

The radical militant group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to the statement. Desertions and corruption have also sapped morale.

USFOR-A told SIGAR that much of the information was kept from the public at the request of the Afghan government.

31, "14.5 percent of the country's total districts were under insurgent control or influence - the highest level recorded since SIGAR began receiving district control data - and 56.3 percent of districts were under Afghan government control or influence", the report, released May 1, states.

Government forces control 56.3 percent of the country, where about 14,000 US troops are deployed.

The varying population sizes of each district means that since August 2016, Afghan government control over its people has decreased.

The government controlled or influenced 65.6 percent of the population and the insurgency only 9.2 percent, a slight improvement in recent months but down from the same period past year, SIGAR said.

The document also found increasing numbers of civilian deaths as the Afghan air force has stepped up its operations while North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has reduced its air strikes.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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