A BBC study has found that Taliban fighters are now openly active in 70 percent of Afghanistan and have full control of 14 districts.
Last year, from Aug. 23 to Nov. 21, BBC reporters spoke to more than 1,200 people from all 399 districts in the country, and asked them about the security situation in their area. They found that since 2014, when foreign combat troops left the country after spending billions of dollars on the war, the Taliban has taken control of places like Sangin, Musa Qala, and Nad-e Ali in Helmand province, where from 2001 to 2014 hundreds of U.S. and British troops died while trying to get it back under government control. In the first nine months of 2017, more than 8,500 civilians were killed in attacks across Afghanistan, the U.N. says, and this month alone more than 100 people have died following attacks in Kabul and Jalalabad.
The BBC says that in addition to being in full control of 14 districts, the Taliban is open and active in 263 districts, meaning 15 million people, or half of Afghanistan's population, live in areas where the Taliban has a regular presence. There are 122 districts under government control, but violence still occurs in those areas. The Afghan government says it has control of most of the country, with President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazavi telling the BBC the activities of the Taliban and Islamic State "have been considerably curtailed." It doesn't feel that way to people like Sardar, who told the BBC he's worried about what's going on in his town, Shindand. "When I leave home, I'm uncertain whether I'll come back alive," he said. "Explosions, terror, and the Taliban are part of our daily life."