Daily Evacuation Brief | June 25, 2022
LAST 24 HOURS
An aftershock hit the Gyan district in Paktika province on Friday and is thought to have killed an additional 5 residents and injured another 11 when a building collapsed. Taliban officials claim just over 1,000 have lost their lives as a result of the dual quakes, but international aid workers in the region say it is closer to 2,000 with an expected increase in the casualty count as more remote communities are reached.
The United Nations accused the Taliban of hampering their ability to direct humanitarian aid to those affected by the recent flooding and earthquakes. Sources familiar with the situation stated the Taliban are demanding aid be passed through them, but the United Nations continues to push back against the demand and insist on direct assistance. Iran, China, and other critics have renewed their calls for the US to release frozen Afghan assets, but sources in the US government say there is a deficit of trust that the Taliban will use the funds for its citizens.
Fighting intensified during the second day of the Taliban’s major offensive against rebel Hazara forces in Balkhab, Sar-e-Pol province. Diverse reports have been received, including:
Some sources have stated the Taliban may have been successful in penetrating Mehdi’s outer perimeter defenses, but they were unable to consolidate their gains and hold the ground. Other reports, including from Mullah Mehdi’s assistant, claim the lines were never breached. The reality remains unclear. However, it is clear that the Taliban's offensive has progressed.
Air support has been filmed conducting strikes in and around the district. The air support was said to be ineffective in the battle, and local sources claim the pilots were keeping their distances from pockets of Hazara fighters.
Sources said captured Taliban prisoners shared that their pilots had been warned about exposing themselves as local commanders had been warned ”not to lose another aircraft”. There were two unconfirmed reports that a helicopter was brought down, but we are unable to corroborate this claim.
The BBC reported that a Taliban fighter who had been captured in the battle detonated a suicide vest and killed several of the Hazara defenders who were guarding him.
Additional Hazara fighters are flocking to Balkhab to join the cause, but are having difficulty reaching the city due to Taliban presence.
There are reports that Mullah Mehdi only has about 200 trained fighters under his command and that the rest are armed civilians.
The Taliban reportedly pulled further troops and equipment from Panjshir, including 100 Rangers. It is not clear where they are being redirected, but there are rumors they are headed to Balkhab. This report has not been corroborated.
Reports coming out of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) in Tajikistan suggest the government’s crackdown on dissidents has intensified and is fueling separatists’ cause in the region. Although unsubstantiated, dozens are thought to have been killed since the security operation began, and demonstrations are a daily occurrence in the GBAO’s capital, Khorugh. One source in the region claims that even Pamiris who originally wanted rapprochement with Dushanbe have now sided with those calling for the establishment of an independent state.
NEXT 24 HOURS
Relief efforts are expected to continue in Paktika province, and Pakistan is expected to deliver two large shipments of food, medical supplies, and potable water. However, mechanisms for delivery are lacking, and there is a concern that a cholera outbreak could decimate the region.
The Taliban surrounding Balkhab are expected to renew their assault for a third day of major combat operations. Reports indicate an additional 250 Taliban reinforcements arrived during the night from Balkh. It is possible that some non-combatants will be allowed to evacuate the town under an agreement that was reportedly reached between Mehdi’s forces and the Taliban.
By Council on Foreign Relations
Our panelists discuss the situation in Afghanistan nine months after the U.S. withdrawal, including the state of Taliban control, the status of women's rights and education, and what to expect in the months ahead.
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Afghani to the Dollar: $1 – 89.21 AFN (as of 25 JUN 2022)