ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan’s security forces battling the resurgent Taliban have suffered around 15,000 casualties, including 5,523 fatalities in the first eight months of 2016, says a U.S. government monitoring agency.
The agency has also warned of eroding gains the war-shattered country has made with the help of the international community.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in its quarterly report published Sunday noted the Afghan government lost 2.2 percent territorial control during this year’s fighting.
“Of Afghanistan's 407 districts, 258 districts were under government control or influence, 33 districts were under insurgent control or influence, and 116 districts were “contested.”
There were 101 insider attacks from January 1, 2015 through August 19, 2016 in which Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF) personnel turned on fellow security forces, killing 257 and wounding 125 others.
“The ANDSF lacks a risk-management system and therefore relies heavily on U.S. forces to prevent strategic failure.”
The Taliban has intensified battlefield and other attacks since August and came close to recapturing the northern city of Kunduz and the capital of southern Helmand province this month.
The insurgents continue to stage assaults on these two key urban centers and several other provincial capitals, inflicting heavy casualties on Afghan forces.
The conflict-related incidents have caused more than 8,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan, including more than 2,500 deaths in the first nine months of 2016, according to the United Nations.
SIGAR reported that the United States has committed at least $1 billion for projects intended to improve conditions for Afghan women, but support for woman having equal access to education and equal representation in political leadership has fallen since 2006.
“Fifteen years after the United States ousted the Taliban regime, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman.”
Poverty, unemployment, underemployment, violence, out-migration, internal displacement and the education gender gap have all increased, while services and private investment have decreased, according to SIGAR.
The report says more than 85,000 Afghans sought asylum for the first time in the European Union in the first six months of 2016, noting that the number of asylum applications from April to June was 83 percent higher compared to the same period in 2015.