Taliban insurgency

The Taliban insurgency was an insurgency that began after the group's fall from power during the 2001 War in Afghanistan. The Taliban forces fought against the Afghan government, led by President Hamid Karzai, and later by President Ashraf Ghani, and against a US-led coalition of forces that has included all members of NATO; the 2021 Taliban offensive resulted in the collapse of the government of Ashraf Ghani.

Taliban insurgency
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021) and the Afghanistan conflict
2021 Taliban Offensive.png
Map of the 2021 Taliban offensive.
Date17 December 2001 – 15 August 2021
(19 years, 7 months, 4 weeks and 1 day)[27]
Location
Result

Taliban victory

Belligerents

 Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Allied militias

Support:


Formerly:

Taliban

Alleged support:
 Pakistan (alleged, denied by Pakistan)[13][14]
 China (alleged, denied by China)[15][16]
 Russia (alleged, denied by Russia)[17]
 Qatar (alleged by Saudi Arabia, denied by Qatar)[18][19]
 Iran (alleged, denied by Iran)[20][21][22][23]
 Saudi Arabia (overtly until 2001, allegedly until 2013)[24]


Allied groups


Taliban splinter groups (from 2015)

Commanders and leaders

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani
(President of Afghanistan)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah
(CEO of Afghanistan)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Abdul Rashid Dostum
(Vice-President of Afghanistan)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Mohammad Mohaqiq
(Deputy CEO of Afghanistan)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Atta Muhammad Nur
(Governor of Balkh Province)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Bismillah Khan Mohammadi
(Defense Minister of Afghanistan)
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Sher Mohammad Karimi
(Chief of Army Staff)
Nangialai [7]
Abdul Manan Niazi [28]
Coalition:

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Major contributing nations with more than 200 troops as of May 2015

Formerly:

Afghanistan Hibatullah Akhundzada
(Supreme Commander)
[29]
Afghanistan Sirajuddin Haqqani
(Deputy of the Taliban)
[30]
Afghanistan Mohammad Yaqoob
(Deputy of the Taliban)
[29]
Afghanistan Jalaluddin Haqqani #
(Leader of Haqqani Network)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
(2002–2016)
Flag of al-Qaeda.svg Ayman al-Zawahiri
(Emir of al-Qaeda)
Afghanistan Abdul Ghani Baradar
(head of Taliban Diplomatic Office)[31]


Afghanistan Mansoor Dadullah 
(Commander of the Dadullah Front)[32][33]
Haji Najibullah
(Commander of Fidai Mahaz)
[34]


Formerly:
Afghanistan Mohammed Omar #
(Commander of the Faithful)

Afghanistan Akhtar Mansoor 
(Supreme Commander)[31][29]
Afghanistan Obaidullah Akhund 
(Former Taliban Minister of Defense)
[31]
Afghanistan Mohammad Fazl (POW)
(Former Deputy Defense Minister)
[31]
Afghanistan Abdul Qayyum Zakir
(Former Taliban military chief)
Afghanistan Dadullah Akhund 
(Senior commander)
[31]

Flag of al-Qaeda.svg Osama bin Laden 
(Former Emir of al-Qaeda)
Strength

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Afghan Armed Forces: 352,000[35]
RSM: 13,000+[36]
High Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: 3,000–3,500[4]


Formerly:
ISAF: 18,000+[37]

Military Contractors: 20,000+[37]

Afghanistan Taliban: 60,000
(tentative estimate)[38]

HIG: 1,500–2,000+[42]
Flag of al-Qaeda.svg al-Qaeda: 100–800[43][44][45]


Fidai Mahaz: 8,000[34]
Casualties and losses

Afghan Security Forces:
Dead: 65,596+ killed 'Wounded:16,500+[38]
Coalition:
Dead: 3,486 (all causes)
2,807 (hostile causes)
(United States: 2,356, United Kingdom: 454,[46] Canada: 158, France: 88, Germany: 57, Italy: 53, Others: 321)[47]
Wounded: 22,773 (United States: 19,950, United Kingdom: 2,188, Canada: 635)[48][49][50]
Contractors:
Dead: 4,000+[51][52][53]
Wounded: 15,000+[52][53]

Total killed: 70,664+
Taliban:
Dead: 52,893+ killed (estimate, no official data).[38][54][55]

The insurgency had spread to some degree over the border to neighboring Pakistan, in particular Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Taliban conducted warfare against Afghan National Security Forces and their NATO allies, as well as against civilian targets. Regional countries, particularly Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia, were often accused of funding and supporting the insurgent groups.[56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][17][64][65]

The allied Haqqani Network, Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (until 2016), and smaller al-Qaeda groups had also been part of the Taliban insurgency.[66][67]

BackgroundEdit

Following the United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban was defeated and many Taliban fighters left the movement or retreated to sanctuaries in the country of Pakistan. In May and June 2003, high-ranking Taliban officials proclaimed that the Taliban regrouped and were ready to wage a guerrilla war in order to expel US forces from Afghanistan.[68][69] Omar assigned five operational zones to Taliban commanders such as Dadullah. Dadullah took charge in Zabul province.[68]

In late 2004, the then hidden Taliban leader Mohammed Omar announced that the Taliban were launching an insurgency against "America and its puppets" (i.e. transitional Afghan government forces) in order to "regain the sovereignty of our country".[70]

The Taliban spent several years regrouping, and launched a re-escalation of the insurgency campaign in 2006.[71]

OrganizationEdit

As of 2018, the Taliban was composed of four different shuras, or representative councils. The first is the Quetta Shura. Two smaller shuras are subordinated to it, the Haqqani network (also known as the Miran Shah Shura) and the Peshawar Shura.[72] The Peshawar Shura was established in March 2005, and is based in eastern Afghanistan.[73] The majority of its fighters are former members of the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin.[74] The Haqqani network declared its autonomy from the Quetta Shura in 2007, and rejoined in August 2015. The Peshawar Shura was autonomous from 2009 until 2016.[75]

The second autonomous shura is the Shura of the North, based in Badakhshan Province. The third is the Mashhad Shura, sponsored by Iran, and the fourth is the Rasool Shura, led by Muhammad Rasul and also known as the High Council of the Islamic Emirate.[72]

FinancesEdit

While the pre-2001 Taliban suppressed opium production, the current insurgency "relies on opium revenues to purchase weapons, train its members, and buy support." In 2001, Afghanistan produced only 11% of the world's opium. Today it produces over 80% of the global crop, and the drug trade accounts for half of Afghanistan's GDP.[76][77][78][79] However, later estimates show that drugs might not be the major source of income of the Taliban. Taxation and mineral sales under the group's shadow governments since 2001 have also been major sources.[80]

On 28 July 2009, Richard Holbrooke, the United States special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that money transfers from Western Europe and the Gulf States exceeded the drug trade earnings and that a new task force had been formed to shut down this source of funds.[81]

The United States Agency for International Development is investigating the possibility that kickbacks from its contracts are being funneled to the Taliban.[82]

A report by the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed to provide the most concrete evidence yet that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban on a scale much larger than previously thought. The report's author Matt Waldman spoke to nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan and concluded that Pakistan's relationship with the insurgents ran far deeper than previously realized. Some of those interviewed suggested that the organization even attended meetings of the Taliban's supreme council, the Quetta Shura.[83][84][85] A spokesman for the Pakistani military dismissed the report, describing it as "malicious".[86][87]

2001–2006 Taliban insurgency re-grouping periodEdit

 
Map detailing the spread of the Taliban-insurgency in Afghanistan 2002–2006

Following the Battle of Tora Bora and Operation Anaconda, The Taliban were defeated and many Taliban fighters left the movement or retreated to sanctuaries in Pakistan, where they began the initial stages of re-grouping.[68][69][88]

Pamphlets by Taliban and other groups turned up strewn in towns and the countryside in early 2003, urging Islamic faithful to rise up against US forces and other foreign soldiers in holy war.[89] On 27 January 2003, during Operation Mongoose (War in Afghanistan), a band of fighters were assaulted by US forces at the Adi Ghar cave complex 25 km (15 mi) north of Spin Boldak.[90] Eighteen rebels were reported killed with no US casualties. The site was suspected to be a base for supplies and fighters coming from Pakistan. The first isolated attacks by relatively large Taliban bands on Afghan targets also appeared around that time.

In May 2003, the Taliban Supreme Court's chief justice, Abdul Salam, proclaimed that the Taliban were back, regrouped, rearmed, and ready for guerrilla war to expel US forces from Afghanistan. Omar assigned five operational zones to Taliban commanders such as Dadullah, who took charge in Zabul province.[68]

Small mobile Taliban training camps were established along the border to train recruits in guerrilla warfare, according to senior Taliban warrior Mullah Malang in June 2003.[69] Most were drawn from tribal area madrassas in Pakistan. Bases, a few with as many as 200 fighters, emerged in the tribal areas by the summer of 2003. Pakistani will to prevent infiltration was uncertain, while Pakistani military operations proved of little use.[68]

As the summer of 2003 continued, Taliban attacks gradually increased in frequency. Dozens of Afghan government soldiers, NGO humanitarian workers, and several US soldiers died in the raids, ambushes and rocket attacks. Besides guerrilla attacks, Taliban fighters began building up forces in the district of Dai Chopan in Zabul Province. The Taliban decided to make a stand there. Over the course of the summer, up to 1,000 guerrillas moved there. Over 220 people, including several dozen Afghan police, were killed in August 2003.[91]

Operation Valiant Strike was a major United States military ground operation in Afghanistan announced on 19 March 2003 that involved 2nd and 3rd battalions of 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment,[92] Romanian and Afghan troops. The combined forces moved through Kandahar and parts of Southern Afghanistan with the objective of eliminating Taliban enemy forces and weapons caches while also attempting to gather intelligence on Taliban activity in the area.[91] At the conclusion of the operation on 24 March 2003, coalition forces had detained 13 suspected Taliban fighters and confiscated more than 170 rocket-propelled grenades, 180 land mines, 20 automatic rifles and machine guns, as well as many rockets, rifles, and launchers.

United States led-coalition forces carried out Operation Asbury Park on 2 June 2004, and 17 June 2004, of taskforce 1/6 BLT of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit engaged in fighting with Taliban and other anti-coalition forces in both Oruzgan Province and Zabul Province culminating in the Dai Chopan region of Afghanistan. This operation was characterized by atypical fighting on the side of the tactics of the Taliban and the other guerillas encountered.[93] culminating in a large battle on 8 June. During Asbury Park, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit was faced with an opponent that frequently would dig in and engage the Marine forces, rather than the traditional hit and run (or "asymmetric attack") methods. As such, Marines, with the aid of B-1B Lancer, A-10 Warthog, and AH-64 Apache aircraft, engaged in "pitched battles each day,"[93] culminating in a large battle on 8 June. The last of the fighting which took place near Dai Chopan on 8 June was decisive in that enemy forces were depleted to such an extent that no further contact was made with the enemy for the duration of the operation. What was meant by the enemy to be a three pronged attack 8 June 2004 resulted in over eighty-five confirmed kills, with estimates well in excess of 100 enemy dead, an estimated 200–300 wounded, with dozens captured. While throughout the entire operation a "handful" of US forces and Afghan Militia were injured.

In late 2004, the then hidden Taliban leader Mohammed Omar announced an insurgency against "America and its puppets" (i.e. transitional Afghan government forces) to "regain the sovereignty of our country".[70]

In late June through mid-July 2005, United States Navy Seals carried out Operation Red Wings as a combined / joint military operation in the Pech District of Afghanistan's Kunar Province, on the slopes of a mountain named Sawtalo Sar,[94][95] approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of Kunar's provincial capital of Asadabad, .[96] Operation Red Wings was intended to disrupt local Taliban anti-coalition militia (ACM) activity, thus contributing to regional stability and thereby facilitating the Afghan Parliament elections scheduled for September 2005.[96] At the time, Taliban anti-coalition militia activity in the region was carried out most notably by a small group, led by a local man from Nangarhar Province, Ahmad Shah, who had aspirations of regional Islamic fundamentalist prominence. He and his small group were among the primary targets of the operation.

In between 13 and 18 August 2005, United States Marine Corps carried out a military operation, called Operation Whalers that took place in Afghanistan's Kunar Province, just weeks after the disastrous Operation Red Wings. Like Operation Red Wings, the objective of Operation Whalers was the disruption of Taliban Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) activity in the region in support of further stabilizing the region for unencumbered voter turnout for the September 18, 2005 Afghan National Parliamentary Elections. Operation Whalers was planned and executed by the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3). The emphasis of the operation was an Anti-Coalition Militia cell led by Ahmad Shah, which was one of 22 identified ACM groups operating in the region at that time, and was the most active. Ahmad Shah's cell was responsible for the Navy SEAL ambush and subsequent MH-47 shootdown that killed, in total, 19 US special operations personnel during Operation Red Wings. Operation Whalers, named after the Hartford / New England Whalers professional hockey team, was the "sequel" to Operation Red Wings in that it was aimed at furthering stabilization of the security situation in the restive Kunar Province of Eastern Afghanistan, a long-term goal of American and coalition forces operating in the area at that time. Operation Whalers, conducted by a number of Marine infantry companies of 2/3 with attached Afghan National Army soldiers and supported by conventional Army aviation, intelligence, and combat arms forces units and US Air Force aviation assets, proved a success. Taliban Anti-Coalition Militia activity dropped substantially and subsequent human intelligence and signals intelligence revealed that Ahmad Shah had been seriously wounded. Shah, who sought to disrupt the September 18, 2005 Afghan National Parliamentary Elections, was not able to undertake any significant Taliban Anti-Coalition operations subsequent to Operation Whalers in Kunar or neighboring provinces.[97]

2006 escalationEdit

In 2006, Afghanistan began facing a wave of attacks by improvised explosives and suicide bombers, particularly after NATO took command of the fight against insurgents in spring 2006.[98]

Afghan President Hamid Karzai publicly condemned the methods used by the western powers. In June 2006 he said:

And for two years I have systematically, consistently and on a daily basis warned the international community of what was developing in Afghanistan and of the need for a change of approach in this regard… The international community [must] reassess the manner in which this war against terror is conducted

Insurgents were also criticized for their conduct. According to Human Rights Watch, bombing and other attacks on Afghan civilians by the Taliban (and to a lesser extent Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin), are reported to have "sharply escalated in 2006" with "at least 669 Afghan civilians were killed in at least 350 armed attacks, most of which appear to have been intentionally launched at civilians or civilian objects."[99][100] 131 of insurgent attacks were suicide attacks which killed 212 civilians (732 wounded), 46 Afghan army and police members (101 wounded), and 12 foreign soldiers (63 wounded).[101]

The United Nations estimated that for the first half of 2011, the civilian deaths rose by 15% and reached 1462, which is the worst death toll since the beginning of the war and despite the surge of foreign troops.[102]

TimelineEdit

  • June:
    • 6 June: A roadside bombing leaves 2 American soldiers killed, the attack took place in the province of Nangarhar. Also a separate suicide bombing in Khost leaves three US soldiers wounded.[103]
    • 15 June: A bus carrying workers to an American base explodes killing 10 and wounding 15. The explosives were placed on the bus.[104]
  • July:
    • 1 July: 2 British soldiers are killed when their base came under small arms fire including rocket propelled grenades.[105]
  • August:
    • 8 August: 4 Canadian NATO soldiers are killed in two separate attacks. And a suicide bomber targeting a NATO convoy detonated, killing 21 people.[106]
    • 20 August: 3 American soldiers are killed and another 3 are wounded in a battle with Taliban militants after a roadside bomb hit an American patrol.[107]
  • September:
    • 8 September: A major suicide car bombing near the US embassy in Kabul kills 18 including 2 US soldiers.[108]
    • 10 September: The governor of Afghanistan's southeastern Paktia province is killed alongside his bodyguard and nephew when a suicide bomber detonates himself beside the governor's car.[109]
  • October:
    • 14 October: A suicide attack in Kandahar city leaves 8 dead including one NATO soldier.[110]
    • 15 October: 2 Canadian soldiers were killed when Taliban militants attacked NATO troops using small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.[110]
  • December:
    • 6 December: A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a security contractor's office killing 7 including 2 Americans, the attack took place south of Afghanistan in Kandahar.[111]
    • 19 December: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Osmani, reportedly number 4 in the Taliban shura, is killed by an American airstrike in southern Afghanistan.[112]

2007Edit

 
Regional security risks and levels of opium poppy cultivation in 2007–2008.
  • The Taliban continued to favor suicide bombing as a tactic.
    • In 2007 Afghanistan saw 140 more suicide bombings – more than in the past five years combined – that killed more than 300 people, many of whom were civilians.[113]
    • A UN report said the perpetrators were poorly educated, disaffected young men who were recruited by Taliban leaders in Pakistani madrassas.[114]
  • Western analysts estimated that the Taliban can field about 10,000 fighters at any given time, according to a 30 October report in The New York Times. Of that number, "only 2,000 to 3,000 are highly motivated, full-time insurgents", the Times reported. The rest are part-timers, made up of alienated, young Afghan men angry at bombing raids or fighting in order to get money. In 2007, more foreign fighters were showing up in Afghanistan than ever before, according to Afghan and United States officials. An estimated 100 to 300 full-time combatants are foreigners, usually from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps even Turkey and western China. They tend to be more fanatical and violent, and they often bring skills such as the ability to post more sophisticated videos on the Internet or bombmaking expertise.[115] It has also been reported that the Taliban now control up to 54% of Afghanistan.[116]
  • On 15 April, the Afghan Government promised to end all hostage deals with the Taliban after two Afghan kidnapped victims were executed in an agreement to free an Italian journalist.[117]

TimelineEdit

  • January:
    • 23 January: A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a US base in eastern Afghanistan, killing 10 people who were waiting outside the base.[118]
  • February:
    • 2 February: Taliban forces raided a southern Afghan town, destroying the government center and briefly holding some elders captive.[119]
    • 19 February: The Taliban briefly seized a small town in western Afghanistan after police fled the town, the Taliban forces moved in for 30 minutes and seized three vehicles.[120]
    • 20 February: A suicide bomber blew himself up during an opening hospital ceremony injuring 2 NATO soldiers and a hospital worker.[121]
    • 27 February: 23 people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked an American military base, Bagram Airfield (BAF), in Bagram District, Parwan Province. The attack took place while US vice president Dick Cheney was in the compound. Cheney was unhurt and was the intended target of the attack as claimed by the Taliban. The dead included an American soldier, a Korean soldier, and an American contractor.[122]
  • March:
    • 4 March: A suicide bomber attacked an American convoy which left 16 civilians dead in the aftermath as the American convey begins to sporadically fire at civilian cars around them. In a separate incident, two British soldiers were killed when a Taliban rocket was fired on them during clashes in Southern Helmand Province.[123]
    • 17 March: A suicide bomber targeting a Canadian military convoy left one dead and three injured, including one NATO soldier. The attack took place in Kandahar.[124]
    • 19 March: A car bomb blew up near a three-vehicle US embassy convoy injuring many in the convoy.[125]
    • 27 March: Four police officers were killed in the southern Helmand Province after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a police station.[126]
    • 29 March: A suicide bomber near Kabul detonated explosives close to a high-ranking Afghan intelligence official's car, killing 4 civilians.[127]
  • April:
    • 6 April: Karzai said that he spoke to the Taliban to bring about peace in Afghanistan.[128] He noted that the Afghan Taliban are "always welcome" in Afghanistan, although foreign militants are not.[129]
    • 9 April: Six Canadian soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan when they struck a roadside bomb. A separate roadside bombing, also in south Afghanistan, left another NATO soldier dead and one wounded. In another incident, a statement from the Taliban's spokesperson claimed that they had beheaded a translator for a kidnapped Italian journalist.[130]
    • 15 April: A suicide bomber struck a US-private security firm, killing four Afghans working for the company.[131]
    • 16 April: A suicide bomber ran onto a police training field and detonated his explosive device, killed 10 police officers and wounded dozens of others. The attack took place in the relatively quiet city of Kunduz. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.[131]
    • 20 April: Separate explosions in Southern Afghanistan leave two NATO soldiers dead.[132]
    • 22 April: A suicide bomber blew himself up in an eastern city of Afghanistan, killing six. A roadside bomb also hit an Afghan intelligence service vehicle, killing all four who were inside.[133]
    • 30 April: Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets in western Afghanistan, accusing US soldiers of killing scores of civilians in fighting which the coalition said killed 136 Taliban in a three-week operation.[134]
  • May:
    • 13 May: Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's top military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in fighting in the south.[112]
    • 23 May: The Taliban's newly named top field commander, Mullah Bakht Mohammed, brother and replacement of deceased field commander Mullah Dadullah, made his first public statement, saying the Taliban will "pursue holy war until the occupying countries leave."[135]
  • July:
  • August:
    • 31 August: A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vehicle after ramming three military vehicles at the military gate of Kabul International Airport. Two Afghan soldiers were killed and ten people were injured.
  • September:
    • 29 September: In an effort to reach a compromise with the Taliban leaders, Karzai suggested quid quo pro by allowing militants to have a place in government if they stopped fighting. Taliban leaders replied by saying there would be no compromise unless intervening forces such as NATO and the US left.[136]
  • November:
    • 2 November: Mawlawi Abdul Manan, an important Taliban figure, was killed by Afghan Security forces. His death was confirmed by the Taliban.[137]

2008Edit

The US warned that in 2008 the Taliban has "coalesced into a resilient insurgency", and would "maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks".[138] Attacks by Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan increased by 40% when compared to the same period in 2007.[138]

TimelineEdit

  • February
  • August
    • 19 August: Taliban forces kill 9 French troops (with a 10th death in an accident) near Kabul.[141]
  • October
    • 6 October: CNN reported that, via Saudi intermediaries, the Taliban is negotiating to end the conflict in Afghanistan, and that the Taliban has split from Al Qaeda.[142]
  • December:
    • 7 December: 200 Taliban armed with RPGs and automatic weapons attack two NATO supply depots outside of Peshawar destroying 100 vehicles packed with supplies intended to support the NATO effort in Afghanistan.[143][144]
    • 8 December: 200 Taliban armed with RPGs and automatic weapons attack a NATO supply depot outside of Peshawar destroying 53 container trucks packed with supplies intended to support the NATO effort in Afghanistan.[143][144]

2009Edit

During 2009 the Taliban regained control over the countryside of several Afghan provinces. In August 2009, Taliban commanders in the province of Helmand started issuing "visa" from the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in order to allow travel to and from the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.[145]

TimelineEdit

  • June:
    • 30 June: US Army Private First Class soldier Bowe R. Bergdahl is captured by the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan.
  • July:
    • 18 July: The Taliban release a video showing Bergdahl being interviewed by one of his captors.[146]
  • August:
    • 12 August: Taliban spokesmen threaten the public not to vote in the upcoming presidential elections.[147]
    • 15 August: 2009 NATO Afghanistan headquarters bombing:
      • A suicide car bomb explodes outside NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing at least seven and wounding almost 100. ISAF troops were reported among the wounded.[148]
    • 25 August: A massive car bomb shakes Kandahar, killing at least 30 and wounding dozens as buildings collapse in the city's center. The attack comes after the first results of the presidential elections were announced.[149] Four US soldiers die in an IED explosion in southern Afghanistan bringing ISAF losses to 295, eclipsing 2008's coalition death toll of 294.[150]
  • September:
    • 4 September: US airstrike on two fuel tankers kill at least 70 people in Farah Province after it was hijacked by Taliban militants. Angry relatives of those killed claim civilians were collecting fuel from the tankers when the airstrike came.[151]
  • December:
    • On 1 December, US President Barack Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to help battle the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban reacted to the President's speech by saying they will step up their fight in Afghanistan. A Taliban commander told the BBC that if more US troops came, more would die.[152]
    • After his disputed re-election, President Hamid Karzai announced to move ahead with a plan for a Loya Jirga to discuss the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban would be invited to take part in this Jirga.[153]

2010Edit

 
Insurgent regions in Afghanistan and border regions of Pakistan, as of 2010

During 2010, the Taliban were ousted from parts of Helmand Province by the ISAF Operation Moshtarak that started in February 2010. In the meantime the Taliban insurgency spread to the northern provinces of the country.[154][155] The new policy of the Taliban was to shift militants from the south to the north, to show they exist "everywhere", according to Faryab Province Governor Abdul Haq Shafaq.[156][157] With most Afghan and NATO troops stationed in the southern and eastern provinces, villagers in the once-peaceful north[158] found themselves confronted with a rapid deterioration of security, as insurgents seized new territory in provinces such as Kunduz and Baghlan, and even infiltrated the mountains of Badakhshan Province in the northeast.

TimelineEdit

  • January:
    • 17 January: "Kabul's day of terror":
      • On this day, gunbattles near the presidential palace and other government buildings paralyzed the Afghan capital for hours.[159][160]
      • As President Karzai was swearing in his new cabinet ministers inside the presidential palace, militants performed attacks on multiple locations in Kabul, including shopping malls, a cinema and the central bank. A team of gunmen launched a spectacular assault in "commando style" with two men detonating suicide bombs and the rest fighting to the death near the gates of the presidential palace, an operation by insurgents to terrorize the Afghan capital, further demoralizing the population and lending to the impression that virtually no part of the country could be safe.[161][162][163][112][164][165][166] The Taliban said it had deployed 20 suicide bombers in explosive vests who were also armed with heavy and light weaponry[167][168]
      • A western security official estimated there is a security incident in Kabul, on average, every seven to 10 days.[169]
  • February:
    • 26 February: Militants target hotels and guest houses in Kabul. Up to nine Indians, an Italian diplomat and a French film maker were among the dead in the worst assault on the Afghan capital for several months. A four-hour battle began with a car bombing and included suicide bombers and Taliban fighters throwing grenades. The attacks appeared to be aimed at Indian government officials and medical workers. Three Afghan police were killed, and six more officers were among the 38 people wounded in what was described as a well-planned and co-ordinated attack.[170]
  • June:
  • July:
    • 20–29 July: International Conference on Afghanistan in Kabul
  • August:

2011Edit

The insurgency continued strongly in 2011.

TimelineEdit

The Taliban continued attacking and ambushing NATO and Afghan troops as well as the targeted assassination of government officials.

  • January:
    • 29 January: The deputy governor of Kandahar was killed in a suicide attack. Three months later, on 15 April the Kandahar chief police, General Khan Mohammed Mujahid was killed.
  • April:
    • It was reported that in 2011, the United States was spending 2 billion dollars per week fighting in Afghanistan against the Taliban. In a 2011 forecast the war in Afghanistan was estimated at 108 billion dollars for the year, while the Iraqi War was estimated at 50 billion.[176]
  • May:
    • 28 May: The Taliban assassinated one of their main opponents, Mohammed Daud Daud, in a bomb attack. Six others were also killed. He was the chief of the police for the northern of Afghanistan.
  • July:
    • 18 July: President Karzai's advisor, Jan Mohammad Khan, was assassinated in Kabul by the Taliban in an attack that also killed an Afghan deputy.[177]
    • As of 18 July, coalition forces started their plan of transition by handing power of several areas to the Afghan authority following their plan of future pull out of the country. A Taliban militant who had infiltrated the Afghan police force killed seven other policemen in Lashkar Gah.[178] The same day the police chief of Registaan district and three other policemen were killed in bomb attacks.[179]
    • As of 22 July 325 coalition fighters were killed, more than 55% of the deaths caused by IED's.[180]
    • 19 July: ISAF General Chief David Petraeus left his position with mixed results.[181][182] During his time as the head of ISAF, 3775 insurgents were killed or captured in 2832 raids[182] while 713 NATO soldiers were killed. Overall the level of violence in the country increased. He was replaced by General John Allen.
    • Between 20 and 22 July, NATO troops killed 50 Haqquani fighters in an attack on their camp.[183]
    • 24 July: A US military investigation discovered that a portion of the 2 billion dollars in funds given by the United States in contracts had fallen in the hands of the insurgency.[184]
    • 27 July: The mayor of Kandahar, Ghulam Haidar Hameedi, was killed in a suicide attack.[185]
    • 28 July: Suicide bombers and snipers attacked the police headquarters of Tarin Kowt in a large-scale attack which killed more than 21 people including Afghan reporter Ahmed Omed Khpulwak.[186] According to the Afghan interior minister, for the 2-year period between 19 March 2009 and 19 March 2011, 2770 Afghan policemen were killed and 4785 wounded while 1052 Afghan soldiers were killed and 2413 wounded.[187]
  • 31 July: 10 Afghan policemen were killed in a suicide attack in Lashkar Gah where Afghan security forces had taken over from NATO a week before. The same day, 10 Afghan guards who were protecting a NATO supplies convoy were killed in the attack.[188] One day before, 5 Afghans soldiers and 2 NATO soldiers were killed in a bomb attack on their patrol.[189]
  • August:
    • 6 August: 31 American Special Forces soldiers were killed in the crash of their helicopter probably shot down during a fight with the Taliban.[190] Seven Afghan soldiers were also killed. This was the biggest death toll for NATO troops in the whole war. Most of the American soldiers killed were Navy SEALs.[191]
    • 7 August: 4 NATO soldiers were killed, including two French Foreign Legion members, and 5 others were wounded.[192]

2012Edit

The Taliban insurgency continued into 2012.

TimelineEdit

  • August:
    • 27 August:
      • Taliban insurgents in the Taliban-controlled southern Helmand area killed 17 civilians – fifteen men and two women[193] – who were attending a party. A government official said that the victims were beheaded for celebrating with music and mixgender dancing[194] in the Musa Qala district of Helmand, which ran contrary to the Taliban's extreme brand of Islam. Later, however, a provincial government official said that the 17 people killed were due to a fight between two Taliban commanders over two women (who were also killed). The civilians were either beheaded or had their throats cut, but some showed signs of gunshot wounds or beatings.[193]
        • The attacks were condemned by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who ordered an investigation into the attack,[194] the leader of the NATO coalition led by the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union. However, the Taliban has denied responsibility for the attack, saying that no Taliban members have ever killed civilians.
        • The attack occurred on the same day when two United States troops were killed by an Afghan soldier.[195]
      • 10 Afghan soldiers were killed by the Taliban, also in the Helmand province.[193]

2013Edit

On 3 April, Taliban gunmen and bombers attacked Farah, killing 34 civilians and 10 members of the security forces. Nine attackers were killed.

In Kabul in June, a Taliban suicide car bomber killed 16 people on the 11th. Gunmen and bombers killed three security guards on the 25th; eight attackers were killed.

On 13 September, Taliban gunmen and bombers killed eight security guards and a policeman in Herat. All seven attackers were killed.

2014Edit

As the American troops began to depart, and the number of Taliban attacks increased, there was speculation that the Taliban were waiting for an American withdrawal before launching a major offensive.[196]

TimelineEdit

2015Edit

2015 saw the Taliban make various gains in Afghanistan in an attempt to fracture the fledgling Afghan government with successes not seen since NATO intervened in 2001. The Taliban has increased suicide attacks and has made multiple territorial gains across the country.

Kunduz offensiveEdit

Beginning in April, the Taliban fought for the city of Kunduz in the northern Kunduz Province with them capturing the city by September. Afghan Armed Forces recaptured the city in October but local sources dispute this claim.[199] The quick fall of the city resulted in calls by some government officials for President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah to resign.[200]

Helmand offensiveEdit

In December, the Taliban made more territorial gains by besieging Afghan forces in the cities of Lashkar Gah, Sangin and outlying towns in the Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan.[201] By late December, most of Sangin was captured by the Taliban with local Afghan forces surrounded and forced to rely on airlifts for ammunition and food.[202]

EffectsEdit

The gains made by the Taliban have hampered peace talks between them and the government and made rifts appear in the Taliban over negotiations.[203] In response to the new offensives, it was reported that the United States would slow down their withdrawal of troops to help in counter-insurgency operations.[204]

2016Edit

  • 14 April: Taliban attacking Kunduz;
  • 31 May: kidnapping a bus with 220 people, killing 10;
  • 1 June storming a court in Ghazni, 5 dead Taliban and 5 dead others;
  • June: Taliban have 25,000 fighters in Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, according to US sources;[205]
  • 18 July attacking Qalai Zal, unsuccessfully;
  • July: 20% of Afghanistan is in Taliban hands, said Time magazine;[206]
  • December: Taliban controls 10% of Afghanistan, said the US military.[207]

2017Edit

On 10 January, the Taliban killed dozens of people in bombings in Kabul and Lashkargah, Helmand Province.

On 21 April, a least 10 Taliban members attacked Camp Shaheen in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh Province, killing at least 140 soldiers. All attackers were killed.

On 22 June, a Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 34 people at a bank in Lashkargah.

2018Edit

On 27 January, a Taliban suicide bomber killed over 100 people in Kabul using a bomb in an ambulance.

2019Edit

Throughout most of the year, the US government maintained high-level talks with the Taliban, in an effort to secure a peace deal with the insurgency. However, a suicide bombing in Kabul on 7 September 2019 which killed 11 people and one American soldier prompted the US president to break-off peace talks with the Taliban.[208] In mid September, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that the Taliban had suffered more than 1,000 war casualties in the space of only one week since the US broke off peace negotiations with the Taliban.[209]

2020Edit

On 29 February, the United-States reached an agreement with representatives of the Taliban, in Doha, Qatar. The agreement calls for the withdrawal of all 13,000 US and allied troops over the next 14 months, on the condition that the Taliban continues with the peace process. The first withdrawal, of around 5,000 personnel, will occur within the next 135 days.[210]

The peace deal stipulates that the Taliban not allow terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda "to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies."[210] If successful, the peace deal will bring an end to 18-years of conflict. Only days after signing the historic deal, US forces conducted airstrikes on Taliban soldiers as a "defensive" measure, as Taliban fighters were "actively attacking" an Afghan government checkpoint.[211]

On 2 May, the US revealed that the agreement included an informal commitment for both sides to cut violence by 80%. Since the agreement was signed, attacks on cities and coalition forces had decreased, but overall attacks had increased 70% compared with the same period in 2019, according to Reuters. The Taliban claim that attacks have fallen since the agreement was signed.[212]

On 14 May, a Taliban suicide truck bomber killed five civilians in Gardez, Paktia Province. On 18 May, the Taliban killed nine people in a similar attack in Ghazni Province.[213]

On 29 May, it was revealed that numerous Taliban and Taliban-aligned Haqqani Network leaders were infected with COVID-19. This resulted in the late founder Mullah Mohammad Omar's son Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob being made the entire organization's acting leader.[214]

2021Edit

 
A map of Afghanistan showing the Taliban offensive

In 2021, the United States forces and allies started to withdraw from Afghanistan which allowed the Taliban to intensify their insurgency.

On 16 June, the Taliban executed 22 soldiers from the Afghan National Army as they tried to surrender; local eyewitnesses stated that the language the militants used among themselves was foreign, indicating that the fighters were not from the area.[215]

On 29 June, intense fighting between Taliban insurgents and government forces killed 28 civilians and injured another 290 during the past week, according to the head of a hospital in Kunduz, with the majority of the dead being children, women and elderly people. The Taliban had moved beyond its southern strongholds and had intensified the fighting in the north, according to military experts.[216]

On 2 July, US troops fully left Bagram Airfield, handing it to the Afghan Armed Forces as the coalition, including the US, prepared to leave Afghanistan after 20 years. Meanwhile, fighting continued between the Taliban and government forces, with analysts said that the Taliban would be "at the door of Kabul".[217] Afterwards, Bagram Airfield was looted by locals following the sudden American withdrawal from the airbase, which was conducted without any coordination with local officials. Afghan troops later cleared the airbase of looters and secured control of it.[218]

However, it was reported that, during June, the Taliban captured 700 Humvees as well as dozens of armored vehicles and artillery systems from the Afghan National Army as more districts fall under the group's control during their offensive in the north.[219]

On 4 July, the Taliban took control of several further districts overnight as Afghan troops abandoned their posts and fled into neighboring Tajikistan via Badakhshan Province. The State Committee for National Security of Tajikistan reported that more than 300 Afghan troops crossed the Tajik border as Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed that most of the territory gaining occurred without a fight.[220]

On 5 July, Afghan presidential advisor Hamdullah Mohib said that there would be a counter-offensive against the Taliban in the north after the group captured six districts in Badakhshan Province. A day earlier, at least 1,037 Afghan troops abandoned their positions and fled into Tajikistan.[221]

On 7 July, Taliban insurgents entered Qala e Naw, the provincial capital of Badghis Province, with heavy fighting reported as the militants moved "towards the centre of the city". All government officials in the city had been moved to a nearby army base, while the Taliban had freed about 400 prisoners from the city's prison.[222]

On 9 July, the Taliban captured the border town of Islam Qala, Herat, Afghanistan's biggest border crossing with Iran.[223] On the same day, Taliban insurgents captured the border town of Torghundi on the border with Turkmenistan as the Afghan National Security Forces collapsed in Herat.[224] The Interior Ministry said that troops had been "temporarily relocated" and that efforts were underway to recapture the border crossing. In addition, a spokesperson for Kandahar Province Governor Rohullah Khanzada mentioned that the Taliban had started fighting to capture the city of Kandahar.[225]

On 22 July 100 people were killed in a mass shooting in Spin Boldak District.

On 3 August, a suicide car bomber and gunmen attacked Kabul. Eight people were killed, not including the attackers.[226]

On 9 August, #SanctionPakistan became one of the top Twitter trends in Afghanistan and worldwide, with Afghans holding Pakistan responsible for its support of the Taliban.[227][228]

On 12 August, about two-thirds of the country was in Taliban hands, with only four cities outside of Taliban control. Sectors of the United States government (CIA) estimated that Kabul would fall within 90 days, and American diplomats were reportedly requesting that the Taliban not deface the American embassy there.[229]

AftermathEdit

See alsoEdit

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