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Afghan govt continues losing territory to militants: SIGAR

Afghan govt continues losing territory to militants: SIGAR

Nov 01, 2017 - 12:33

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan National Security Forces continue losing territory to the insurgents, a congressionally-constituted American watchdog says.

In its latest report, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said 54 of the country’s 407 districts were under rebel control.

This indicates an increase of nine districts over the past six months, according to the report, which says 13.3% of the country’s districts are under insurgent control.

In other words, 3.7 million Afghans (11.4 percent of the population) live in districts under militant sway -- a 700,000-person increase over the last six months."

SIGAR also noted the UN claim that civilian casualties from US/Afghan air strikes had risen by 52 percent in the first nine months of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016.

The Afghan Air Force (AAF), the watchdog said, continued to see little increase in its aircrew numbers and aircraft availability. Strengthening AAF capabilities should be a top US priority, it stressed.

On the positive side, Afghan police saw an approximately 2,700-person increase and the Afghan National Army a roughly 750-person increase.

“Considering that the units are those most responsible for holding territory, this is good news. The Afghan government's provision of medical care to its military personnel is also improving.”

The ramping up of US military activity in Afghanistan represents another positive development. Between January and September 2017, US air strikes were at the highest level since 2014.

While 10 US service personnel were killed in action between January and August (twice the rate during the same periods in 2016 and 2015), casualties are far lower than in every other year since 2001.

"Afghanistan’s rapid population growth, estimated at 3 percent per year, is outpacing its licit economic growth. Afghanistan’s labor market is unable to absorb what the World Bank estimates are 400,000 people entering the workforce every year.

“Consequently, more than 23 percent of Afghanistan’s labor force was unemployed in 2016–2017, according to the most recent reporting."

SIGAR warned unless the international community could do more to help Afghanistan develop its economy and attract new investment, insurgents and terrorists would be the beneficiaries.