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Taliban overruns district in Afghan north

The Taliban has overrun another district in northern Afghanistan. The district of Qush Tepa in Jawzjan province - which was previously contested - was taken by the Taliban earlier today after several days of fighting, both Afghan officials and the Taliban confirmed.

The governor of Jawzjan province said that the Taliban shut down all roads to the district on Monday morning and killed five soldiers, TOLONews reported.

"Based on the circumstances on the ground, it seems that the district has unfortunately fallen to the enemy," Governor Lotfullah Azizi told the Afghan news agency.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that his fighters seized the district earlier today.

"Qush Tepa DHQ [district headquarters] #Jowzjan & along with all buildings fall to Mujahidin as 10 gunmen killed, 25 wounded & 78 detained, a number have gone into hiding & currently under pursuit. Large amount weapons/equipment seized, details later," Mujahid tweeted on his official Twitter account.

The increased insecurity in Jawzjan is part of a troubling trend of Taliban dominance in the Afghan north. Ten years ago, Jawzjan and the surrounding provinces had a minimal Taliban presence. Today, the Taliban controls three of Jawzjan's 11 districts, and contests five more, according to an ongoing study by FDD's Long War Journal.

The same is happening in provinces bordering Jawzjan. In Sar-i-Pul, the Taliban controls one of the province's seven districts and contests five more. In Faryab, the Taliban controls five and contests six of the 15 districts. In Balk, the Taliban controls two and contests another two of the 14 districts.

The US military stopped reporting on the security status of Afghanistan's districts at the end of 2018. Resolute Support claimed that peace negotiations, and not the truth about the security of the districts, is the real measure of success in Afghanistan. The truth, Resolute Support knows, is that the Taliban controls as much territory in Afghanistan as it ever has.

[Source: By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, Fdd's, NJ, 02jul19]

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