After several days of fierce fighting, Taliban forces have taken almost full control of Sangin, a key district in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a police official said.
The Taliban took over the entire district except for the police chief’s compound and another compound where a battalion of Afghan National Army is based in, said Mohammad Dawood, the Sangin police chief.
December marks one year since NATO handed over security operations to the Afghans. Before then, British and American forces struggled for years to hold on to Sangin.
It is strategically important because it links Lashkar Gah, the Helmand capital, to districts in the north. If the Taliban gain control of Sangin, they will control supply routes to the districts.
Dawood said the fighting in the district had been going on for more than a month, but was in its worst stage in the past three days.
He added that police have sustained heavy casualties and are almost out of ammunition.
Mohammad Jan Rasolyaar, deputy governor of Helmand province, took an unusual step over the weekend to ask President Ashraf Ghani for help in an open letter on Facebook.
He warned that all of Helmand could fall to the Taliban if the President didn’t take action.
Rasolyaar mentioned Sangin district in his message, saying its main bazaar and the government office were under heavy attack by the Taliban. During the recent intense fighting in Sangin and Greshk districts, 90 Afghan security forces had been killed, he said.