Afghan forces struggle to regain ground as casualties mount

Despite $900 Billion Spent and 2,400 U.S. Lives Lost, Afghanistan Continues to Deteriorate - Hit & Run : Reason.com

Watchdog: Afghanistan at 'Lowest Level' of Territorial Control amid Taliban Pressure

SIGAR uses the number of districts under the control of the US -backed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) or terrorist groups, mainly the Taliban, as a metric of stability in Afghanistan.

Data for casualties suffered by Afghan security forces are not available to the public after Washington a year ago agreed to Kabul's request to classify the numbers.

SIGAR added that a full 12 percent of Kabul's districts were under Taliban control or influence, with 32 percent considered "contested".

Hundreds of people, including scores of civilians, have been killed in Taliban attacks in recent weeks.

As of September, it said the government controlled or influenced territory with about 65 percent of the population, stable since October 2017, after a year of heavy fighting in Farah and Ghazni as well as other provinces like Faryab and Baghlan in the north.

On Sept. 24, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said that while he could not confirm reports that about 500 police and soldiers had been killed and 700 wounded over the previous month, the figures "sound about right". They have cited signs that the Taliban is more open to negotiations to end the war, even as violence escalates.

Taliban representatives have met with US officials at least twice in Qatar in recent months, most recently on October 12 with USA peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

"My assessment is the Taliban also realizes they can not win militarily", he said.

In April 2017, Russian Federation hosted an global conference on Afghanistan.

"Despite its importance ... counternarcotics seems to have fallen completely off the USA agenda", special inspector general John Sopko wrote in the report's introduction.

Sopko said the US military also said it has no counternarcotics mission, while the US Agency for International Development said it has no plans to address poppy cultivation.

However, the Afghan government has not clarified its position on the possible meeting.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Interior said the police forces and local residents have not suffered casualties during the clash.

Meanwhile, the United States has renewed efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks with the Western-backed government in Kabul in a bid to achieve a political solution to the Afghan conflict. The Department of Defense (DOD) noted this year that "it's plausible the Taliban now place greater emphasis on narcotics as a primary source of revenue" than previously, but opinions vary on the extent of narcotics revenue owing to the insurgency.

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