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Taliban offensive sends significant warning to the Afghan and US governments

Throughout the seven months that followed the US/Taliban peace deal of 29 February, there have been repeated accusations by Afghan authorities that the Taliban was not sticking to the group’s commitment to a reduction in violence, even if what was meant by this did not seem to have been defined very precisely in the bilateral talks. The Taliban claimed that what it had committed to was to abstain from major attacks on cities and highways, which indeed were hardly conducted at all by the Taliban until October.

There is no question, however, that the Taliban offensive launched in southern Afghanistan and areas of the north that month was in breach of whatever terms were agreed in Doha. The Taliban first entered Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, on 12 October, seizing the fourth district of the city and then entering the third district. The group’s fighters also attacked the districts surrounding the city. Later that month the Taliban began closing in on Farah city, capital of the western province of Farah, and then attacked and occupied the eighth district of the city of Faizabad in the northeast province of Badakhshan on 18 October. Taliban fighters also attacked Kunduz city, capital of northern Kunduz province, and by the end of the month Taliban pressure on Kandahar city was also growing, with fighters making major gains in the surrounding districts. As of mid-December, the Taliban was continuing to fight in the fourth district of Lashkargah, but had withdrawn from Kunduz and Faizabad.

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