Taliban Increase Presence in Areas Left by ANDSF

The Taliban has increased its presence in areas where the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) left military installations and checkpoints.

Referring to a decision to either relocate or withdraw personnel from military installations in some regions of the country, the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that some of these checkpoints and bases were not positioned in optimal areas.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that it has reduced the number of police checkpoints by half to reduce casualties among the police force.

Meanwhile, footage received by TOLOnews shows that the Taliban has established checkpoints on the Kunduz-Takhar highway.

Passengers and drivers on the highway have said that the Taliban established new checkpoints on the highway after the government forces withdrew from adjacent areas.

“There are no government forces toward the Takhar checkpoint,” said one driver on the highway.

“Taliban are there at the Khanabad checkpoint, they can do whatever they want,” said a driver on the highway.

Local officials in Kunduz have said that new checkpoints will be established in some parts of Kunduz in the spring.

Also in Baghlan province, the government has withdrawn from some checkpoints on the Pul-e-Khumri to Mazar-e-Sharif highway.

“The government is not taking responsibility for security, the Taliban are always on the highway, we hardly manage to travel,” said Jawad, a resident in Baghlan.

“I came from Kunduz, the Taliban have established three to four checkpoints along the highway, we are facing a lot of security challenges in Pul-e-Khumri,” said Qand Agha, a resident of Baghlan.

This comes days after the Ministry of Defense said that it had relocated an Afghan National Army base from Bala Murghab district of Badghis province and settled it in a different area.

“If our bases are in jeopardy, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense tries to relocate them to a better location to avoid threats,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

There are no details about how many of the military installations and checkpoints have been relocated in recent months, but the Ministry of Interior has said that over the past one year almost half of the police checkpoints have been reduced across the nation to reduce casualties.

“We have reduced the presence of police in more than 6,000 checkpoints to 113 bases and 3,700 checkpoints—the move was aimed to reduce the role of police in war and instead to transfer the war responsibilities to the Ministry of Defense,” said Minister of Interior Massoud Andarabi.

Andarabi on Tuesday said that the Afghan government strongly believes in peace and has not declared a war against anyone; however, it’s up to the Taliban to decide on a path of peace or war this spring.

“The Afghan government has not declared any operation for the month of Hamal (March), because we are still committed to peace and believe that the door for peace should remain open,” said Andarabi.

The Taliban usually announces its offensive in the spring.

Andarabi underlined the military capability of the Afghan security forces to defend the nation against threats.