The Taliban just released a map of territory it controls in Afghanistan — and it's surprisingly accurate

taliban map

FDD's Long War Journal

The Taliban issued a "report" that attempts to determine areas in Afghanistan it controls as well as contested areas and areas under the influence of the Afghan government.

While the report may be seen as propaganda to bolster its claims of controlling territory, it does not inflate or exaggerate the Taliban’s control of districts centers and contested areas throughout the country, compared to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.

The report was actually a rather conservative estimate, painting a dire but realistic picture of the security situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban also admits that there are large areas in Afghanistan where it has only a minimal presence.

The report, entitled "Percent of Country under the control of Mujahideen," was released on Voice of Jihad, the group’s official website. It was "published by the Commission for Cultural Affairs of the Islamic Emirate after a long rigorous research" on March 26.

Of the 400 known districts in Afghanistan, 349 are covered by the report. FDD’s Long War Journal was unable to match 38 districts listed by the Taliban with known districts throughout the country, and the Taliban did not provide the status of an additional 13 districts; therefore, the status of 51 districts could not be determined.

FDD’s Long War Journal mapped the Taliban’s report (see map above) and color-coded and categorized the districts as follows:

Taliban map numbers

FDD's Long War Journal

According to the Taliban, it fully controls 34 districts, including the district centers, and contests another 167 districts (these are districts where the Taliban claims it controls between 40 to 99 percent of the territory). The Taliban has a significant presence (10 to 39 percent) in another 52 districts, and a minimal presence in six more districts (1 to 9 percent). The Taliban said it has no presence in 89 districts, however, in some of those provinces it says it is conducting "guerrilla activities."

Additionally, the Taliban claims it controls areas in 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. The percentages range from 10 in Maimana, Faryab to 97 in Tarinkot, Uruzgan.

According to the Taliban, it controls or contests nearly all of the districts in the southern provinces of Helmand, Nimroz, Uruzgan, Zabul, and Ghazni, and half of Kandahar. Eastern and northwestern Afghanistan look equally bleak, as do the northern provinces of Kunduz and Baghlan.

The Taliban report may be dismissed as propaganda by Resolute Support, however its claims of district control largely match with press reporting from Afghanistan. Additionally, in early Feb., the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) issued a report stating that the Taliban controls, contests, or influences 171 districts. By contrast, the Taliban report, as of March 26, claims that 211 districts are controlled or contested.

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