17 September 2018

Taliban overruns military base in Zabul


The Taliban has released yet another video showing their fighters gathering in the open after overrunning a military base without fear of reprisal from NATO or Afghan warplanes. In many remote areas of Afghanistan, the Taliban has demonstrated that it can operate virtually unfettered. The Taliban released “Enemy Retreat from Shomolzo (Zabul)” on Sept. 10 on its official website, Voice of Jihad. It is unclear when the attack took place. In mid-August, the Taliban reportedly killed 11 policemen in Zabul after it overran two checkposts, but the video shows what appears to be a large base. “Shomolzo” is Shamulzayi district, which is contested by the Taliban, according to an assessment by FDD’s Long War Journal.

Taliban fighters masses in the open in Zabul during daytime, again without fear of being targeted from the air. Footage from Taliban video "Enemy Retreat from Shomolzo (Zabul)" (in Shamulzayi district).

In the video, the bodies of several slain Afghan security personnel can be seen (these have been edited out of the video clips shown above and below).

More footage from Taliban video "Enemy Retreat from Shomolzo (Zabul)" (in Shamulzayi district). As with other videos, note how the large contingent of Taliban fighters is unconcerned about being targeted in retaliatory airstrikes.

Attacks on military bases such as the one in Zabul have become all too common in Afghanistan. Taliban fighters have not paid a price for loitering and celebrating on captured bases or overrun district centers as the Afghan military and Resolute Support are either unwilling or unable to launch airstrikes or retaliatory raids. [See LWJ report, Analysis: Coalition and Afghan forces must target Taliban after overrunning bases, from 2017.]

Resolute Support, NATO’s command in Afghanistan, is recommending that the Afghan military withdraw from more remote outposts, however, this would cede more ground to the Taliban, which in turn leverages these areas to launch attacks on major Afghan population centers.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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