News / Asia

    Despite Massive Taliban Death Toll No Drop in Insurgency

    An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier is seen through damaged glass as he keeps watch at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, Feb. 24, 2014
    An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier is seen through damaged glass as he keeps watch at the Forward Base in Nari district near the army outpost in Kunar province, Feb. 24, 2014
    Afghan police and army units are killing an average of 12 Taliban fighters every day but according to experts the high death toll is having little effect on Taliban recruitment efforts or the group’s ability to stage attacks. 

    Fighting that led to the initial collapse of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in late 2001 did not come with heavy casualties, but now 13 years later, as the U.S. is set to end its combat mission the Taliban casualty rate has skyrocketed. 

    As they take the lead in the war effort, Afghan army and police killed over 720 Taliban insurgents in January-February 2014, according to official news releases compiled by VOA Dari Service.

    Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry sends news statements on almost daily basis describing military operations by police forces in different parts of the country in which Taliban casualty figures (killed and wounded) are noted. 

    Since the interior ministry’s news statements report less than 50 arrests of Taliban fighters in January and February but that more than 720 were killed during the same period, the data indicates that Afghan security forces are mostly killing Taliban fighters than capturing them.

    Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, confirmed the authenticity of the casualty figures gathered by VOA and said those killed included foreign citizens.

    “Among the terrorists killed were citizens of Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Arab countries and Chechnya,” said Danish who could not provide precise figures for each nationality. 

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a purported Taliban spokesman, repudiated the interior ministry’s figures saying the numbers were inflated to boost the morale of government forces.

    Over 300,000 Afghan security forces, police and army, are fighting Taliban insurgency but the country’s defense ministry does not regularly release insurgents’ casualty numbers resulting from its own counterinsurgency operations.

    There are still about 60,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban but a NATO spokesman said the allies are not recording enemy casualty numbers.

    A regenerating force

    Since 2001 the Taliban have regrouped, mostly in sanctuaries in Pakistan, and have launched an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan.

    It’s unclear how many Taliban have been killed over the past 13 years but estimates vary from 20,000 to 35,000.

    Just over a decade ago in the early years of the insurgency, the Taliban were a hit-and-run force of about 2,000 foot soldiers but as much as efforts to kill them have intensified so have their regenerating capacity, experts say.

    In 2014, the core Taliban force is estimated at over 60,000, according to Matt Waldman, a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House.

    “Afghan security forces have inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban," said Waldman adding that the heavy death toll had not weakened the insurgency.

    Casualties are highest among the Taliban’s rank-and-file members while their leaders have largely been spared, living in safe havens in remote parts of Afghanistan or across the border in Pakistan.   Experts say targeting these leaders would do more to defeat the insurgency than focusing on killing large numbers of foot soldiers. 

    U.S. drones strikes and other counterterrorism measures which have been largely carried out in the  tribal areas of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province have killed many Pakistan Taliban leaders but most Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding out in Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces.  

    Other casualties

    For the first time in over a decade of war against Taliban, the Afghan government has listed the casualty figures for Afghan security forces.

    At least 13,700 Afghan police officers and army soldiers have been killed in the war with more than 16,500 others wounded, according to a statement issued by President Hamid Karzai’s office on March 2.

    More than 3,420 NATO allied forces, among them 2,315 U.S. service personnel have died in the war, according to iCasualties website.

    Additionally, about 15,000 Afghan civilians have also lost their lives in the war since 2007, according to the United Nations.

    Excluding civilian casualties prior to 2007, before the U.N. began recording them, the Afghan war has cost more than 32,000 lives – Afghans and foreigners. This figure does not count the thousands of Taliban fatalities. 

    And it does not count the more than one million Afghans who died between 1979 and 1989, after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, or the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who died in a the brutal civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal. 

    By some accounts at least two million Afghans have died in more than 35 years of nearly continuous conflict.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora