News / Asia

    US General: Major Taliban Split Emerging in Afghanistan's Helmand Province

    FILE - An Afghan soldier guards at a checkpoint in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 22, 2015.
    FILE - An Afghan soldier guards at a checkpoint in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 22, 2015.

    The Taliban is fracturing in Afghanistan's Helmand province, a known Taliban stronghold, a U.S. general in Kabul said Thursday.

    General Wilson Shoffner told reporters via telephone that the U.S. is seeing an "emergence of three separate Taliban groups" in northern Helmand, and that all three factions are largely not loyal to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

    The splintering over the last few months "may provide opportunities for reconciliation" with the Afghan government, Shoffner said, or it may provide a chance for Islamic State-Khorasan fighters to try to infiltrate the different Taliban groups.

    "That is a potential outcome, [but] we're seeing that primarily more in the east than we are in Helmand," the general said.

    Islamic State has designated Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of Iran as its so-called "Khorasan" province.

    The U.S. continues to watch the different Taliban groups in Helmand "closely."

    "It will be very interesting to see where the revenue goes amongst those three groups and where their loyalties lie," the general said.

    FILE - A Taliban militant is seen with an AK- 47 as farmers collect resin from poppies in an opium poppy field in Naway district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 25, 2008.
    FILE - A Taliban militant is seen with an AK- 47 as farmers collect resin from poppies in an opium poppy field in Naway district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 25, 2008.

    A recent spike in fighting is expected to decrease later this month because of the start of the poppy harvesting season. The U.S. military estimates that more than half of the Taliban's income comes from poppies, which produce the highly addictive opium narcotic.

    IS weakening in Afghanistan

    Islamic State-Khorasan attempted to recruit and spread propaganda in Helmand in 2015, but the Taliban successfully stopped most of those attempts, according to Shoffner.

    The group is contained in one district in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. Last month, Islamic State-Khorasan was in four or five districts in the province.

    Nangarhar province is on the border with Pakistan, and many pledging allegiance to Islamic State-Khorasan are former members of the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP.

    Shoffner estimated that current numbers of Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan are "probably on the lower end" of between 1,000 and 3,000.

    Reasons for the decrease include a "substantially increased" number of U.S. airstrikes against the group and conflicts with the Taliban over revenue streams and ideology.

    The White House gave the U.S. military legal authority to target Islamic State in Afghanistan in January.

    Shoffner added that the group's brutal tactics have "backfired on them" and are seen as extremely unpopular with citizens in Nangarhar.


    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    March 11, 2016 10:02 PM
    They know where the poppy fields are. Perfect time for napalm. But the poor farmers families would starve :-(

    by: Balderdash from: botswanaland
    March 11, 2016 10:54 AM
    Directly from the 'so what' department, tell us how this id different from before. Even if, and this is a stretch, one half the Taliban could be co-opted to 'go after' the other half (remember that 'pirate militia' somebody enlisted 3 - 4 years ago to do just that?), what makes us think that would be a benefit to us? We're still the outsiders in the piece and are still much unloved as we have been since we showed up - or started defensive firing.

    Is there any prospect of 'victory' here? How about them letting the nice guy from Kabul call the shots? We won't even think about getting the little girls into school/police popst, or them not growing poppy.
    In Response

    by: Carol Grayson from: UK
    March 11, 2016 12:52 PM
    Stop interfering in Afghanistan US troops need to leave, no chance of peace talks whilst there. Civilians are sick of illegal wars and human rights abuses from US supported militia and police, child soldiers are being used and abused by them also. Another screw-up like Vietnam... no wonder US is hated by so many around the world.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora