The Trump administration is urging American-backed Afghan troops to retreat from sparsely populated areas of the country, U.S. officials said, all but ensuring the Taliban will remain in control of vast stretches of the country.
The approach is outlined in a previously undisclosed part of the war strategy that President Trump announced last year, according to three officials who described the documents to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity.
New York Times has written that it is meant to protect military forces from attacks at isolated and vulnerable outposts, and focuses on protecting cities such as Kabul, the capital, and other population centers.
However, the Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) says the Afghan troops will retreat the unpopulated areas which do not need military presence and they will have their presence in all other parts.
“We will replace our troops from unnecessary areas,” Muhammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman of MoD asserted.
According to New York Times, the withdrawal will effectively ensure that the Taliban and other insurgent groups will hold on to territory that they have already seized, leaving the government in Kabul to safeguard the capital and cities such as Kandahar, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif and Jalalabad.
Atiqullah Amar Khail, a former military officer said, “They want to make the Afghanistan geography more limited and enhance the activity areas of the enemies. We had an experience in Helmand province. When they removed all checkpoints, since then Taliban controls all districts of Helmand.”
Previously, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said that of the 407 districts, the Afghan government has the control of 229 districts, 59 districts are under the Taliban’s control and both sides are trying to take the control of 119 other districts.