A year of Taliban gains shows that ‘we haven’t delivered,’ top Afghan official says - The Washington Post
The group’s infighting has blocked efforts by Ghani to bring the Taliban to peace talks. The insurgents’ new leader, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, appears determined to prove his mettle and strengthen the Taliban’s bargaining position by escalating attacks, Western diplomats and analysts said. In September, the Taliban briefly seized Kunduz, the first city to fall since the demise of its regime, prompting the U.S. military to dispatch Special Operations troops and stage airstrikes to help the Afghan security forces retake control.
Now, the insurgents are on the doorsteps of several provincial capitals, applying more pressure on urban areas than in any year of the conflict. The clashes in Helmand have reflected the Taliban strategy that led to the takeover of Kunduz — seizing surrounding districts before moving in on the provincial capital. Already, the Taliban are in the enclave of Babaji, within the borders of Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah.