Afghan Taliban captures city of Helmand

One day after Helmand city deputy governor's warning that Helmand is in danger key city has been taken over by Taliban

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Helmand has been the scene of clashes between insurgents and security forces over the last six months.

Updated Dec 23, 2015

The strategic southern city of Helmand fell to Taliban on Monday, after days of fierce confrontations and fighting with the Afghan government forces.

Deputy governor of the volatile Afghan province of Helmand warned on Sunday that Helmand could fall to the Taliban after months of heavy fighting, after more than 90 security forces members were killed over the past few days.

Mohammad Jan Rasulyar, the deputy governor of the southern province said unless Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani took urgent action, Helmand, which is a centre for opium production and a Taliban heartland that British and American troops struggled to control for years, would be lost.

"Your Excellency, Helmand is standing on the brink and there is a serious need for you to come," Rasulyar wrote on Facebook.

Helmand has been the scene of clashes between insurgents and security forces over the last six months. Security forces stationed in Helmand have complained about being abandoned by their US-backed government.

"We don't provide food and ammunition to our forces on time, do not evacuate our wounded and martyred soldiers from the battle field, and foreign forces only watch the situation from their bases and don't provide support," Rasulyar wrote.

Facebook post is considered highly unusual and paints a striking resemblance to the situation that led up to the fall of the northern city of Kunduz in late September of 2015, Taliban fighters seized and held on to the city for several days before government troops regained control of it again in December.

Afghan Army spokesman Mohammad Rasool Zazai said he had no comment about the Facebook post, but said Helmand would “never collapse."

Police Chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang said, "We have strong forces in Helmand. In some places, we leave areas for tactical reasons, but all forces are working together well and very soon we will have major achievements to report."

Helmand’s loss may draw scrutiny about the ability of the Afghan government to control insurgencies without foreign military help.

Ghani's government is backed by billions of dollars in international aid and training assistance and thousands of NATO troops still stationed in Afghanistan, the government is also pushing to re-open talks with the Taliban.

Last year, most of the international forces deployed in Afghanistan withdrew.

This week, The New York Times reported that the US Special Forces had taken part in the battle in Helmand, however, the report has not been confirmed by the NATO headquarters in Kabul.

TRTWorld and agencies