August 17, 2018 | Qutoed by Carlo Munoz - The Washington Times

Taliban blindside U.S. forces with surprise Afghan offensive

The Taliban are on the verge of dramatically expanding their control over southern and eastern Afghanistan in a surprise offensive that has caught Afghan and U.S. forces off guard and thrown a vexing new wrench into the Trump administration’s strategy for ending the nearly 17-year-old war there.

Even before the assault on Ghanzi, the provincial governor could only travel from one government building to another in an armored convoy amid fears the militant group might attack, says Bill Roggio, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an editor with the think tank’s Long War Journal.

“Without U.S. forces there, the Afghan forces would not be able to stave this attack off,” Mr. Roggio told The Washington Times. “That is not success. That is not progress.”

He added that “it’s difficult to know who controls what” in the wider province around Ghanzi, where local reports Monday indicated Taliban fighters had overtaken two major districts, Khwaja Umari and Ajristan. While Mr. Roggio said U.S.-backed Afghan forces will likely be able to reassert control over Ghazni, the price will be high and ultimately untenable.

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