Afghan Population and Land Are Decimated by Taliban-ISIS Turf Wars

Taliban and the Islamic State are making bloody inroads on putatively post-war Afghanistan, claiming a rising death toll among members of the US-trained and backed Afghan National Defense Security Force (ANDSF) and civilians of all creeds.
While the two Islamist terrorist organizations vacillate between collaboration and rivalry against shared targets, they carry the same message of death to the war-torn populace and its security forces.
On Aug. 24, Taliban terrorists invaded the well-guarded American University of Afghanistan, lobbing grenades as they advanced past armed guards and watchtowers. At least seven students, a professor and two security guards were killed and another 45 persons injured.
A fortnight earlier, on August 7, two professors of the same university – an American and an Australian – were abducted at gunpoint near the University campus. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
On July 23, an ISIS suicide killer struck a Hazara Shiite protest sit-in in Kabul, killing at least 80 people, mostly civilians, and injuring another 231.The Hazaras were demanding that the Afghan Government drop its plan to reroute the 500-kilovolt TUTAP (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan) power line.
While the indigenous Taliban has been around for decades, the ISIS’ aggressive footprint dates from 2014, at about the same time as it swept across Iraq and Syria for major land grabs.
Although they sometimes announce “truces,” “non-aggression pacts” – or even “alliances” – the two jihadist organizations are essentially fighting a turf war in Afghanistan.
A shaky “truce” in the last two months enabled ISIS to regroup and make gains in the eastern Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. It is ready to spread further, with the promise of more violence.
From January to June 30, 2016, at least 5,166 Afghan civilians were casualties – 1,601 deaths and 3,565 injured, according to the midyear report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, prepared by the Human Rights Unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
This was the highest casualty count in the first half of any year since 2009.
Those figures were far exceeded by the fatalities among the Afghan National Defense Security Force (ANDSF) The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its Quarterly report (April 30, 2016) submitted to the United States Congress stated that at least 6,637 personnel were killed and another 12,471 were injured through 2015.
The report added that, in the first two months of 2016, an additional 820 ANDSF personnel were killed and 1,389 were wounded.
On July 28, Gen. John Nicholson, Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, disclosed that the number of ANDSF personnel killed in the first half of 2016 was about 20 per cent higher than during the same period of the preceding year.
The Afghan government and its security force are also losing territory to the Islamist terrorists. The 70.5 percent of the country’s districts they controlled in January, 2016, had shrunk to 65.6% by the end of July.
Of the 407 Districts within 34 Provinces, 268 were under Government control or influence; 36 (8.8%) in 15 Provinces were under insurgent control or influence; and 104 (25.6%) were "at risk".
Of the 36 Districts under insurgent control or influence, nine, with a population of 524,072, were under insurgent control, and 27, with a population of 1.98 million, were under insurgent influence.
Not surprisingly, during the first six months of the current year, 157,987 Afghans were newly displaced – a 10% increase over the same period last year. This brings the estimated total number of conflict-induced internally displaced Afghans to 1.2 million.
That figure shot up on Aug. 20, when Taliban seized the entire Khan Abad district in the northeastern Kunduz province, snatching weapons and vehicles from local forces and putting local civilians to flight. The Head of the Kunduz provincial council warned the government that the Islamist group could take over the province like in 2015 if immediate action was not taken to halt their advances.

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