Thursday, March 7, 2019

2015 in Afghanistan: Map of Taliban and "Islamic State" Control

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Where in Afghanistan is the war? Map of Taliban control in Afghanistan in October 2015, during the Taliban's takeover of Kunduz city and at the height of so-called Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) control in Nangharhar province. Also marks areas of government control and unclear or mixed control. Includes all of Afghanistan's major cities, plus selected towns, including many sites of Taliban control. Colorblind accessible.
Basemap by Koen Adams of, with territorial control by Evan Centanni.
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Timeline by Evan Centanni

Afghanistan: Who Controlled What in 2015?

The date is October 2, 2015. In the year and a half since the low point of Taliban control shown in our April 2014 Afghanistan map, the rebel group has been steadily expanding its territory. Most recently, the Taliban have launched a surprise takeover of Kunduz city, one of northern Afghanistan's major population centers, and the first provincial capital they've controlled since their national government was overthrown in 2001. Meanwhile, as the current government pours all its resources into taking the city back, the Taliban take advantage of the chaos to seize control of various other districts across the Afghan countryside.

Meanwhile, the so-called "Islamic State" (IS; formerly ISIS/ISIL), based thousands of kilometers to the west in Iraq and Syria, has established a formidable new branch in Afghanistan. This IS affiliate - known officially as "Khorasan Province" - has carved out a small territory of its own in Nangarhar, along the border with Pakistan, and is now reaching what will be the height of its power in Afghanistan. Though both IS and the Taliban are religious hardliners, IS's brutal tactics, largely foreign membership, and claimed superiority have made it an enemy of the Taliban, and left it with very little support among the Afghan people.

Timeline of Events

The following is a timeline of changes to territorial control and other key events in Afghanistan from the time depicted in our April 2014 Afghanistan control map until the time depicted on this map, in early October 2015. Sources are indicated by links within the text.

Note: All locations named in the timeline are labeled on the map. When a province and its capital city share the same name, the map only labels the capital city.

2014.04 Twelve years after the Taliban lost control of Afghanistan's government amid a US invasion, the group is at another a low point in the extent of its territorial control. For details of which areas are still controlled by the group at this time, see our April 2014 Taliban control map.

2014.04.04 Afghanistan votes in its third presidential election since the fall of the Taliban government. There are eight candidates on the ballot; current president Hamid Karzai is ineligible for reelection, having already been elected to two terms. Many areas of Afghanistan are unable to vote due to Taliban control or threats, and the results will not become available for several weeks.

2014.04.06 The Taliban seize 13 villages of Qaysar district in Faryab province, centered around the market town of Shakh, and will hold them for almost three weeks before retreating.

2014.04-05 Taliban forces seize a number of security checkpoints in the Tergeran area of Badakhshan province's Warduj district.

2014.04.26 Preliminary results of the country's presidential election are announced: Abdullah Abdullah has come in first with 45% of the vote, while Ashraf Ghani is in second with 32%. Because neither candidate has received over 50%, the election will proceed to a runoff in June. The results of the first round will be officially confirmed on May 15.

2014.05 An International Crisis Group publication reports that although the administrative center of Kandahar's Ghorak district is government controlled, all roads in and out of the district are blocked by the Taliban, and the group controls 63 of the district's villages compared to the Afghan government's 22. Meanwhile, Spin Boldak district on the border with Pakistan is a pro-government stronghold.

2014.05.19 Taliban forces capture the administrative center of Yamgan district in northeastern Afghanistan's Badakhshan province.

2014.06 The Taliban launch an assault on Sangin district in Helmand province, with the ultimate result unclear - some sources say the Taliban have captured much of the district, while others say government forces successfully took it back.

2014.06.14 A runoff election is held to decide between presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. The results are expected in early July.

2014.06.29 Iraq-based religious hardline armed group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) changes its name to just "the Islamic State" (IS), claiming to be the government of an empire for all the world's Muslims. In fact, most Muslims around the globe are vehemently opposed to IS, but this declaration will pave the way for sympathetic religious revolutionaries in other countries, including Afghanistan, to join the cause as affiliates.

Detailed map of territorial control in Iraq in June 2014, including cities and countryside held by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, ISIL) and the Kurdistan Peshmerga.
Just before renaming itself "Islamic State", ISIS takes over much of northern and western Iraq, the group's home country.
2014.07.01 Rahim Muslim Dost, a prominent Afghan poet, religious hardliner, and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, publicly declares his allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS).

2014.07.04 The Taliban are said to have captured Sangan village in central Afghanistan's Ghor province around this time.

2014.07.06 According to a report from the European Asylum Assistance Office (EASO), Taliban forces reportedly capture the Askin Valley northeast of Kabul on this date.

2014.07.07 After several days of delay, preliminary results of the presidential runoff election are released, indicating Ashraf Ghani as the projected winner with about 56% of votes. Abdullah Abdullah is in second with about 45% of the vote, and overall turnout is reported to be 20% higher than in the first round of the election. However, by this time the runoff election has  already been called into question by widespread accusations of fraud, and candidate Abdullah Abdullah promises not to accept the results. Foreign observers support calls for an in-depth review of the vote count.

2014.07.09-10 The Taliban reportedly capture Charsada (Charsadda, Chahar Sada) district in Ghor province. The Afghan military claims to have retaken it the next day, though the Taliban deny this.

2014.07.12 In a deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, presidential candidate Ashraf agrees to a UN-supervised audit of all votes from the June 14 election, while Abdullah Abdullah agrees to respect the conclusion of the audit. The deal also includes committments to forming a unity government in which the losing candidate will still hold an important role in the administration.

The audit will be faced with several delays over the coming weeks, with the two candidates disputing the details of how it's carried out.

2014.07.26 The New York Times reports that the Taliban "control everything but the district center" in Tagab northeast of Kabul, and that in Nangarhar province, Surkh Rod district has come under Taliban control in the past month. However, PolGeoNow is unable to find any other sources for Taliban control in Surkh Rod, and analysts will not list Surkh Rod as a Taliban-held district in future reports.

2014.08.18 Afghan security forces say they have driven the Taliban out of Sangan village in Ghor province, about 45 days after the group captured it. According to an EASO report, citing a news article that's no longer online, the Taliban will take the village back a few days later.

2014.08.20 Duab district of northeastern Aghanistan's mountainous Nuristan province is cut off from outside communications amid a battle between the Taliban and government forces, with some saying the Taliban have seized control.

2014.08.21 The Taliban claim to capture Nawbahar district of Zabul province, bordering their longtime stronghold of Nawa. The government denies that the district has been completely taken, but an Afghanistan Analysts Network report a year later will say local sources have confirmed that the district was indeed captured by the group.

2014.08.22 Local officials allege that Pakistan's military has attempted to invade Maruf district of Kandahar province. The incident is followed by hours of cross-border shelling from Pakistan, leading to civilian casualties.

2014.08.28 The army claims to have secured control of Nuristan's Duab district, eight days after it was allegedly taken over by the Taliban. However, the Afghanistan Analysts Network will consider the district to be Taliban-controlled as of one year later.

2014.08.25 An Afghan government official says that 70% of isolated, mountainous Nuristan province is under Taliban control, and that the provincial capital has been cut off from the rest of the province.

In northwestern Afghanistan, a local official says the Taliban still control three market towns in the Qaysar area of Faryab province, including Shakh.

2014.09.02 Amid the ongoing presidential election results audit, sitting president Hamid Karzai is forced to stay on past his expected date of departure from office. The inauguration of the country's new president was originally scheduled for August 2, and Karzai set a new deadline of September 2 himself. However, the audit is not yet complete, and Karzai will decide to remain in office rather than letting the country go without a president.

2014.09.21 Afghanistan's electoral commission declares Ashraf Ghani the official winner of June's presidential runoff election after the completion of the UN-supervised audit. Under a deal reached the previous day, opposing candidate Abdullah Abdullah accepts the results, on the conditions that he be appointed to the newly-created office of "Chief Executive" and that the final vote totals not be released to the public.

2014.09.27 Members of the Afghan government claim that fighters representing the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) have participated in an attack on Ajristan (Ajrestan) district of Ghazni province - an attack that other officials attribute to the Taliban. They also claim that IS has established military posts in Ajristan, Nawar, the Tebla area, and another Ghazni district. However, the New York Times will later report that a local government official has admitted to fabricating claims of IS activity in Ajristan.

Small groups of fighters in Afghanistan are indeed known to have pledged loyalty to IS starting as early as March 2014, and some IS-sympathetic fighters from Pakistan may have crossed the border into Nangarhar province as early as the summer of 2014.

Despite doubts about the veracity of early reports, over the next year a substantial fighting force loyal to IS, if only loosely affiliated, will indeed develop in the country. A 2016 report will conclude that the IS branch in Afghanistan "receives funding from the Islamic State’s Central Command and is in contact with leadership in Iraq and Syria, but the setup and day-to-day operations...have been less closely controlled than other Islamic State branches such as that in Libya."

2014.09.29 Ashraf Ghani takes over from Hamid Karzai as President of Afghanistan in a long-awaited inauguration ceremony.

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Short Name:  
• Afghanistan (English)
Afġānistān (Pashto)
• Afġānestān (Dari)
Official Name:  
• Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (English)
• Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jumhoryat (Pashto)
•Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Afġānestān (Dari) 
2014.09.30 President Ghani signs an agreement with the US to allow some American troops to stay in Afghanistan after they complete their current mandate at the end of 2014. Losing presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah had also promised to sign the deal, which was opposed by outgoing president Hamid Karzai.

At this time, there are about 24,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The plan is for the number to be reduced to 9,800 by the end of the year, with their mission restricted to training the Afghan military and hunting down Al Qaeda operatives. However, over the next two months the US president Barack Obama will revise the number to 10,800, and authorize them to provide air support for Afghan combat missions against the Taliban.

One the same day as the US agreement, a separate agreement is signed between Afghanistan and NATO to authorize the participation of other coalition countries in post-2014 military training and advisory operations.

2014.10.02 The Taliban claim to have captured Registan district in Kandahar province, apparently with the help of a lesser-known Baloch militia loyal to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The group says government forces have retreated to neighboring Shorabak (Shorawak) district. The provincial government insists that no such takeover has happened, and that the Registan district government has only been moved "for administrative reasons".

2014.10.20 An in-depth BBC report describes extensive Taliban administration of the Tangi Valley (Saydabad District), just southwest of Kabul.

2014.10.21 Reuters reports that, according to local officials, the Taliban control "virtually all" of Chardara (Chahar Dara) and Dasht-i-Archi districts in Kunduz province. The same day, a pro-government militia reportedly drives the Taliban out of a town east of Charsada in Ghor province.

2014.10.26 The UK officially ends its combat operations in Afghanistan, handing over its last base in the country to the Afghan military. The base is located northwest of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

2014.10.27 The Guardian reports that Uruzgan province's Gizab district, once a model for local resistance to the Taliban, is now 80% controlled by the rebel group. According to the report, the district center is still government-held, but all roads to it have been cut off.

2014.10 The spokesman and five regional commanders of the Pakistani Taliban publicly declare their allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS). The Pakistani Taliban are a separate organization from the Afghan Taliban, and several factions have defected since the death of their leader in November 2013. Many Pakistani Taliban units operate just across the border from Nangarhar and other parts of eastern Afghanistan, and are increasingly being squeezed towards and over the border by Pakistani military offensives. Lashkar-e-Islam, another anti-Pakistan rebel group that operates on both sides of the border in the Nangarhar area, is also emerging as a partner to IS-loyal fighters.

Meanwhile, the Taliban begin openly operating a major gold mine in Raghistan district of Badakhshan province around this time.

2014.11.22 The New York times reports that the Taliban still "mostly control" Tagab district northeast of Kabul, with government soldiers confined to their base except under the Taliban's terms, though the district center is apparently still patrolled by the Afghan police. Areas just north of Tagab are also contested by the group, with government forces hesitant to venture off the main roads.

2014.11 An EASO security report drafted in November 2014 describes a general lack of government presence in Ghor province, with a variety of armed groups active along the opium trade corridor running from Pasaband to Charsada, including local warlords and militias as well as Taliban. One informant claims that the Taliban "now rule unchallenged" in Shahrak, Saghar, Charsada, Pasaband, and parts of Chaghcharan, though no other source lists these districts among those whose administrative centers are Taliban-controlled. An Afghanistan Analysts Network article from the previous year cites a provincial council member as saying that Afghan government forces only securely control the province's easternmost tip (between Dawlatyar and Panjab), parts of Dawlatyar district itself, and parts of provincial capital Chaghcharan. He is also cited as saying that the other seven districts of the province are all "either ruled by the Taliban or dominated by illegal militias". 

2014.12.11 It is reported that the Taliban have taken over Khamyab (Kham Ab), on the border with Turkmenistan, after government security forces were forced to withdraw from the whole district. Reports say this marks the first time since 2001 that the Taliban have controlled territory along the Turkmen border. However, it seems likely that some areas of Faryab province very close to the border may also be Taliban-controlled. 

2014.12 According to notes included in a mapping project by anti-terrorism think tank the Long War Journal (LWJ), the Taliban overrun Shindand district's main market in Herat province during this month, though they apparently do not hold it - an article from summer 2015 will indicate that "the district centre and the area around the airbase, plus the immediate surroundings of the few army posts" are government-controlled, though the Taliban have free reign elsewhere in the district.

The LWJ map notes also say that Kharwar, Charkh, and Azra districts in the province south of Kabul are each over 95% controlled by the Taliban at this time, according to government officials quoted by a news article that is no longer online. An EASO report also indicates that sources say "most parts" of each of those districts are under armed opposition control in December 2014. Nine months later, the districts will still have only "limited government accessibility".

Also in December 2014, it is reported that the Taliban and government forces are in the midst of a three-week battle for control of Dangam district in Kunar province, on the border with Pakistan.

2014.12.28 The US and NATO officially end their combat mission in Afghanistan, with a ceremony in Kabul handing over leadership of the war against the Taliban to the Afghan security forces. Some 17,000-18,000 international troops, down from a peak of 150,000 a few years before, are set to remain in Afghanistan after the handover. The number of US troops in the country will fall to 10,800, down from a peak of 100,000 in 2010 but still higher than in the early years of the war (2002-2003).

2015.01.14 A pair of Taliban defectors is reported to have set up a training camp loyal to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in Khaki Safed (Khak-e-Safid) district of Farah province. Around the same time, reports emerge of IS activity in several other provinces in Afghanistan's north and southeast.

Map of fighting and territorial control in Syria's Civil War (Free Syrian Army rebels, Kurdish groups, Al-Nusra Front, Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and others) as of December 2014
IS took over much of eastern Syria in 2014 (map from December)
2015.01.26 An IS spokesperson announces the group's official expansion into Afghanistan and Pakistan, which it together refers to as "Khorasan Province". Former Pakistani Taliban leader Hafez Saeed Khan - one of the regional commanders who declared allegiance to IS in October - is declared governor of IS's Khorasan province, with Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim of Afghanistan appointed deputy governor.

Khadim, a Taliban member and former Guantanamo Bay detainee, has recently been reported to be leading an IS-inspired faction in Kajaki district of Helmand province, though some members of his community dispute that he is actually affiliated with IS, or even engaged in military activities at all. Analysts will later conclude that Khadim likely met with IS representatives in Iraq in 2014, and may have received a visit in Kajaki from prominent Afghan IS advocate Rahid Muslim Dost.

Around this time, black IS flags begin to appear in the Mahmand Valley of Nangarhar province. Within weeks, the flag of IS can be seen flying from houses in seven different districts of the province's southeast.

2015.02.09 Afghan IS leader Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim is killed in a US drone strike while traveling from Kajaki to Musa Qala in Helmand. His personal cell of followers flees to Farah province, but IS followers in Farah will also soon be defeated, with their own leader fleeing to Nangarhar province in the country's northeast.

2015.02 In mid-February, fighters loyal to IS clash with Taliban forces in Nangarhar province and in Charkh district south of Kabul. As IS attacks on Taliban positions increase, local Taliban forces are apparently caught off guard and unsure how to react, with no orders forthcoming from their group's national leadership. The leaders are apparently still deliberating on whether or not to confront the new IS movement.

2015.03.19 It is announced that Matiullah Khan, a powerful Australia-backed police chief who "effectively ran the province" of Uruzgan, has been assassinated in Kabul.

2015.03.24 The US announces that, by request of Afghan president Ghani, it will delay the further withdrawal of American troops from the country for the rest of 2015. Some 9,800 troops will remain in Afghanistan until the end of the year, up from an original target of 5,500.

2015.03.27 The Taliban claim to have captured a former NATO base east of Farah city.

2015.04 In April 2015, discussions turn to an apparent surge in violence across northern Afghanistan, widely attributed to an influx of thousands of foreign religious hardline fighters from the Pakistani border area around Kunar and Nuristan provinces. The fighters allegedly hail originally from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the Russian region of Chechnya, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Uyghur ethnic group of western China's Xinjiang region, and are likely to have crossed the border from Pakistan after losing their safe havens in that country's North Waziristan district. This comes as the Pakistani military continues its "comprehensive operation" to flush hardline fighters out of North Waziristan, which began in June 2014. Many of the fleeing fighters are allegedly recruited by the new Khorasan chapter of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS).

Many of the former Pakistani Taliban who joined IS in October also likely flee across the border to Afghanistan's Nangarhar province around this time, and over the next month IS media will shift the focus of its "Khorasan" coverage from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, talks between the Taliban leadership and IS, ongoing since at least March, break down, and Taliban forces in Nangarhar finally receive orders to attack IS. However, by this time IS has already mostly forced the Taliban out of Achin and three surrounding districts, with Taliban forces regrouping farther west in the mountains of Nangarhar's southern border. Afghan government forces maintain a presence on major roads and in district centers, but otherwise IS is mostly able to act freely in the area, and consolidates control over transport routes across the mountains to Pakistan. Both Afghan government forces and IS appear to avoid attacking each other, perhaps both seeing a benefit in IS focusing its energy on fighting the Taliban.

In mid-April, Taliban fighters occupy some more villages in Faryab province's Qaysar district, these ones probably located southeast of Shakh based on PolGeoNow research.

2015.04.10 A report describes a battle in the Khostak Valley of Badakshan's Jurm district in which Afghan military outposts are overrun, but not occupied, by Taliban fighters. Other sources say the Taliban did capture and hold the posts.

2015.04.14 A member of parliament from Faryab province delivers an impassioned speech to the national legislature claiming that essentially all of his province is under either Taliban military control or partial Taliban civilian governance.

2015.04.25-26 In a major assault in Kunduz province, the Taliban reportedly overrun Imam Sahib, Aliabad, and Qala-i-Zal districts, while also attacking parts of Kunduz city. However, government forces soon recapture Qala-i-Zal. It is unclear whether the government has managed to reverse the Taliban's October seizures of Chardara and Dasht-i-Archi districts.

2015.05.10-15 Fighting erupts between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in Charsada and Pasaband districts of Ghor province. The Taliban claim to have captured parts of the Charsada district center, but government forces say they have expelled the rebels several days later following an exceptionally bloody battle.

2015.05.06 Radio Free Europe reports that the Taliban and similar groups contest about half the districts in Sar-i-Pul province, but that government forces and newly formed local militias have retaken almost 40 villages from them in recent weeks.

2018.05.08 In a major offensive, government forces recapture Nawa district of Ghazni province from the Taliban for the first time in nine years. However, they will lose it again a week later.

2015.05.09-12 The Taliban capture Jawand district in Badghis province after forcing security forces to retreat from the district center. The government claims to have recaptured it three days later, though an Afghanistan Analysts Network report from four months later will list it as still under Taliban control.

2015.05.15 An unnamed source in Tajikistan's intelligence services, interviewed by a news website from that country, alleges that the Taliban control "almost 80%" of Afghanistan's Badakhshan province, including areas within just a few kilometers of the Tajik border. Based on PolGeoNow's knowledge of the situation, the "80%" figure appears to be a major exaggeration.

2015.05.16 Taliban fighters capture a police training center in Dand-i-Ghuri, Baghlan province, after surrounding it for three days. Earlier in the month, they reportedly captured three bases and twenty checkpoints from security forces around Dand-i-Ghuri and the area to its northeast.

According to an uncited note in a Long War Journal mapping project, the Taliban claim to capture Dara district, northeast of Kabul, on this date. The province in which Dara is located is known for being mostly free of Taliban control.

2015.05.20 The Afghan army repels a major Taliban attempt to capture border posts at Mor Chaq, on the Turkmen border in Badghis province.

2015.05.24 In Farah province, IS-affiliated fighters attempt to capture part of Khaki Safed district from the Taliban, but the Taliban successfully repel them. 

2015.05.26 The governor of Kunduz province claims that IS-loyal groups have established a major presence in the province, raising the organization's black flag in some villages. Reports of IS fighters entering Kunduz go back at least to early March, though by most accounts the major anti-government power in Kunduz is still made up of Taliban or allied groups.

2015.05.30 Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Taliban, possibly including IS-affiliated groups, "by some estimates" control half of Uruzgan province

2015.05.31 A police checkpoint in northeastern Afghanistan's Samangan province, apparently near the village of Bayanan, is reportedly seized by the Taliban during a firefight. Taliban fighters are also said to have a major, as-yet-unchallenged presence in Bayanan village itself, as well as several villages to its east. Samangan province was previously considered mostly outside of Taliban influence except for occasional attacks in its capital.

2015.06.05 An article from the Afghanistan Analysts Network describes organized Taliban control over most of the 200 Arab-majority villages in Sar-i-Pul province's "Sheramha" area (presumably Sheram).

2015.06.06 Taliban fighters overrun Yamgan district of Badakhshan province in a major assault on the district center, for the second time in the last 13 months. A week later the government will report that it has regained control, though months afterwards some sources will still consider the district to be Taliban-administered.

Also on this day, government forces reportedly "regain control" of Ab Kamari district in Badghis province after fighters "attacked several villages around the district centre," though the rebels are still present in some areas west of the district center.

2015.06.08 Officials say the Taliban have taken over 14 villages southeast of Sar-i-Pul city under a deal struck with local police commanders.

2015.06.12 Government officials report that the Taliban have captured five villages and four police posts in Herat province, near the borders of Badghis province and Turkmenistan, though the provincial governor's office denies it.

2015.06.12-14 Taliban forces seize two areas south of Sar-i-Pul city, cutting off the road to Kohistanat district. However, pro-government forces claim to have recaptured both areas two days later.

2015.06.13 A spokesperson for the Afghan military claims that the Taliban only control four districts in the whole country: Baghran and Dishu in Helmand, Kakar (Khak-e-Afghan) in Zabul, and Nawa in Ghazni. This appears to be an overly conservative estimate, even assuming that it only counts districts whose administrative centers are fully held by the Taliban.

The same day, Taliban forces capture a police station less than a mile (1.6 km) from the center of Helmand's Musa Qala district.

2015.06.20-23 The Taliban again capture Chardara and Dasht-i-Archi district centers in Kunduz province. The Afghan government says the Taliban only control about half of Chardara, and claims security forces have recaptured it the next day, though the Taliban vigorously deny this. Villagers say that the government has returned to the district center, but that the rest of the district remains under Taliban control. At this point it is thought that the Taliban likely still control nearby Imam Sahib and Aliabad districts after capturing them in April, though the status of Qala-i-Zal district, also captured at the time, is in question.

2015.06.26-27 The Taliban complete their control of Waygal district in Nuristan province, overrunning the new district center in Wanat. The government claims to have retaken the town the next day, though the claims are difficult to substantiate, and an analyst says that due to destruction, it's unlikely there will be any real government administrative presence in the district for the near future.

Around the same time, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that, according to interviews conducted over the past week, government forces have abandoned 90 of Uruzgan province's 200 checkpoints amid Taliban sieges. It also reports that Khas Uruzgan, Deh Rawud, and Gizab districts in Uruzgan are seen as close to being captured by the rebel group. The surge in Taliban control is thought to have been facilitated by the assassination of Australia-backed warlord Matiullah Khan in March.

According to an unnamed expert interviewed for the report, Taliban control has increased from 20% to at least 50% of Deh Rawud district over the past few months, from under 50% to possibly as high as 80% of Charchino (Shahidi Hassas) district, and from 50% to 80% of Gizab district. The expert estimates that Khas Uruzgan district is currently 60-70% Taliban-controlled, as is 20-30% of the district that includes provincial capital Tarinkot.

Libya control relief map: Shows detailed territorial control in Libya's civil war as of August 2015, including all major parties (Tobruk government, General Haftar's Operation Dignity forces, and Zintan militias; Tripoli GNC government, Libya Dawn, and Libya Shield Force; Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries and other hardline Islamist groups; and the so-called Islamic State (ISIL)). Also file under: Map of Islamic State (ISIS) control in Libya.
In 2015, another IS affiliate is gaining ground in Libya.
2015.06.29 Reuters reports that fighters loyal to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) have captured territory in Afghanistan for the first time, taking parts of at least six districts in Nangarhar province surrounding their headquarters in the Achin area. The administrative center of Achin is still government controlled, despite IS or Taliban forces reportedly controlling almost everything else in the district. Two mountainous districts to the west of Achin are actively contested between IS and the Taliban.

The following November, a think tank will report that IS control stretches as far as the main highway between Jalalabad and Pakistan, including villages on both sides of the road in Bati Kot district.

2015.07 The Taliban are reported to control most or all of Kajaki district in Helmand province. Sometime during July, they also capture a police base in the Tergeran area of Badakhshan province's Warduj district.

Around this time, IS-affiliated fighters from Pakistan and other countries take over the populated Mahmand Valley of Nangarhar's Achin district from Taliban loyalists amid fierce fighting. Some sources also claim IS has taken over the Achin's administrative center by the end of the month.

2015.07.03 An Afghanistan Analysts Network report indicates that the center of Nuristan's Kamdesh district is under government control, but nearby areas are held by the Taliban. It also says that in Herat's Shindand district, only the district center, a government airbase, and a few military posts are under government control, while the Taliban have free reign over an area stretching to Kakhi Safed in Farah province, including the Zirkuh area.

2015.07.06 According to a police spokesman in Takhar province of northeastern Afghanistan, Taliban fighters capture several areas of Khwaja Ghar district.

2015.07.07 A US drone strike hits a meeting of IS leaders in Achin district of Nangarhar, killing the former Pakistani Taliban spokesman who joined IS in October, along with one of the regional commanders who joined at the same time.

2015.07.11 Reports say the Taliban have captured the last army post in Dand-i-Ghuri district of Baghlan province.

2015.07.11-15 An official from the government of Faryab province tells the media that "outside district centers, most areas [of the province] are under Taliban control," while the district centers are held by pro-government militias with only minimal support from Afghan security forces. Over the past four days, pro-government forces are said to have lost 30 villages in Qaysar district, 40 in Almar, and 35 in the district to the north that includes Astana Baba. "Over 30" of the villages lost in Almar district are in the Qarae area, which is captured by the Taliban on July 13. It is unclear whether rebel fighters here are part of the Taliban proper, or under the command of the Taliban-allied Islamic Movement in Uzbekistan (IMU)

2017.07.20 According to the pro-government district chief, security forces in Faryab province capture two areas just north of Almar district center. The official says the areas had been under Taliban control for the past two years.

2015.07.23 The Taliban capture the Baiseqal (Bay Saqal) area of Baghlan province after Afghan police withdraw.

2015.07.25 Taliban forces overrun a military base in the Tergeran area of Badaskhshan's Warduj district, also claiming to have captured six nearby checkpoints and 12 villages. The alleged gains are said to bring all of Warduj district except for "small pockets around the district center" under Taliban control.

2015.07.28 Taliban forces capture the administrative center of Kohistanat district in Sar-i-Pul province, after claiming to overrun a nearby government outpost. The advances come after a local police contingent's alleged defection to the Taliban.

2015.07.29 Taliban fighters capture Nawzad district in Helmand province.

2015.07.30 The Taliban leadership admits that Mullah Mohammed Omar, the group's founder and near-mythical leader, is dead. The Afghan government says Omar died of illness in a Pakistan hospital in 2013. The Taliban later will admit to having covered up his death for propaganda purposes ahead of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Omar's deputy Mullah Akhtar Mansour is appointed head of the Taliban by the group's leadership council. He is seen as supportive of peace talks with the Afghan government, an issue that has divided the Taliban in recent years.

Although he was already seen as the Taliban's acting leader, Mounsour's appointment is controversial among senior commanders, even within the leadership council. This dispute will result in the Taliban's effective split into two factions, a division that will persist for years to come.

In what many observers see as an unexpected development, Sirajuddin Haqqani - leader of the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network of southeastern Afghanistan - is appointed as Mansour's top deputy. The Haqqani Network, while historically loyal to Mullah Omar, has never been considered part of the Taliban proper. The group is often described as more extreme than the Taliban, and more heavily involved in terrorism and criminal activities. Sirajuddin Haqqani is known to have been a personal friend of the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

2015.08.04 Media report that General Abdul Rashid Dostum, currently First Vice President of Afghanistan, is on the brink of waging a campaign to end widespread Taliban control of Faryab province. He is threatening to do so using an army of militias raised through his own connections, without the approval of President Ghani in Kabul. General Dostum is a well-known and controversial figure from an earlier era of Afghanistan's civil war, and from the Afghan-Soviet War before that. He is considered the unofficial leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek minority, which largely resides in the country's north.

2015.08.05 A US intelligence official says that Zurmat district south of Kabul is "firmly in control of the Taliban", though an Afghanistan Analysts Network report from a month earlier describes a situation of mixed administration between the Taliban and government forces. However, the AAN report does note that the town of Kulalgo, at least, is said to be completely under Taliban control.

A report from Ghor province says the Taliban control Murghab, Charsada, and Dawlatyar districts, denying access to government officials (the first is not an official government district, while the latter two are not included on analysts' lists of Taliban-controlled districts). Another source cited in the report says the Taliban have mined all roads to and from Charsada, and that government forces must travel by air to and from the parts of the district where they are active. "Security officials" reportedly say the Taliban in Ghor province are mostly located in Charsada and Murghab districts, and a group of local Taliban led by foreign fighters have a base somewhere in Charsada district.

The Taliban are also said to have captured Ghalmin, near provincial capital Chaghcharan. A local source further reports that the Taliban have a strong influence in parts of Chaghcharan itself, where they collect taxes from locals.

2015.08.06 The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an Afghanistan-based organization formerly loyal to the Taliban, announces that it's merging with the so-called "Islamic State" (IS). The group had voiced support for IS the previous September, but at that time stopped short of pledging allegiance. However, one subgroup of the IMU has already pledged allegiance to IS in March.

Within the next month, clashes will break out between the IMU and the Taliban in Zabul province, with the Taliban publicly demanding that the IMU leave Afghanistan, and a faction of the IMU breaking off to rejoin the Taliban. In November, local officials will describe Kakar district of Zabul as an IS stronghold, possibly in reference to the continued presence of the IS-loyal IMU faction.

2015.08.10 After General Dostum takes command of military forces in Faryab province's Almar district, an Afghan legislator says the general's forces have cleared the Taliban from Mirshadi village.

2015.08.12 Taliban forces capture a large area just north of Khanabad, in Kunduz province. 

2015.08.13-14 The head of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, declares his organization's continuing allegiance to the Taliban, and Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour publicly accepts the oath of allegiance the next day. Both groups are opposed to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS).

2015.08.15 At this time, it appears that the Afghan government once again has a presence in Khamyab district on the Turkmen border. This may be the result of a local military campaign against the Taliban announced in April.

2015.08.22 Amid General Dostum's campaign in Faryab, the army captures Khwaja Kinti in Qaysar district from the Taliban, ending four years of control by the group there.

2015.08.26 The Taliban seize the district center of Musa Qala, nearly completing their control of northern Helmand province.

2015.08.26-27 Astana Baba village in Faryab province is captured by General Dostum's forces, but recaptured by the Taliban the next day after Dostum moves on to Sar-i-Pul province. According to an EASO report, Mirshadi village in Almar district is also retaken by the Taliban after Dostum's departure.

2015.08.28-29 The Kohistanat district center in Sar-i-Pul province comes back under Afghan government control when Taliban fighters retreat ahead of the arrival of General Dostum and his fighters. Balkhab district, as well as parts of Kohistanat district outside the center, are said to still be under Taliban control. The next day, the government claims its continuing campaign has already "cleared" 28 more villages of Kohistanat.

2015.08.30-31 Afghan government forces claim to recapture Musa Qala from the Taliban in Helmand province, but some sources say they abandon it to the Taliban again one day later.

2015.09.01 The Taliban recapture Khwaja Kinti in Faryab's Qaysar district once the army withdraws, after only holding it for ten days. The town of Shakh, currently home to an anti-Taliban volunteer force, is said to be at risk of coming under the group's control soon.

An Afghanistan Analysts Network report describes the summer's events in Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province, which ended with the district center and the town of Syabaghal under government control, but most of the road between them in Taliban hands.

2015.09.03 An Afghanistan Analysts Network report provides a comprehensive list of districts known to be controlled by the Taliban:
  • 7 district centers captured by the Taliban in 2015 and still held: Chardara and Dasht-i-Archi in Kunduz, Waygal in Nuristan, Jawand in Badghis, Nawzad in Helmand, Nawa in Ghazni (the last recaptured after brief govt control), and possibly Musa Qala in Helmand.
  • 4 district centers captured by the Taliban in 2015 but lost again: Qala-i-Zal and Imam Sahib in Kunduz, Yamgan in Badakhshan, and Kohistanat in Sar-i-Pul
  • 4-5 districts under Taliban control since before 2015: Baghran in Helmand, Kakar and Nawbahar in Zabul, Duab in Nuristan, and maybe Pasaband in Ghor.

The report estimates the total number of "contested" districts in the country at around 60. It does not mention Dishu district in Helmand province, Balkhab in Sar-i-Pul, or Khamyab on the border with Turkmenistan, all of which have been reported as Taliban-controlled by other sources.

2015.09.04-05 In battles against the Afghan army and pro-government militias in Faryab province, the Taliban capture Shakh, along with another area of Qaysar district and an area in Almar district between Mirshadi and Qarae. In previous days, they have also captured a market town along the main road west of Qaysar.

2015.09.03 The Afghan government sends a delegation to the Dand-i-Ghuri area in Baghlan province, where Taliban forces have captured most of the police checkpoints, seizing a portion of the highway that runs from Kabul to Mazar-i-Sharif. Later in the month, the delegation will sign a ceasefire agreement with local elders that allows the Taliban to remain in control of the area in exchange for ending attacks on government targets.

2015.09.11-14 Media report that the administrative center of Raghistan district in Badakhshan province has been captured by the Taliban, though the district police chief claims that they are repelled after three days of fighting.

Detailed map of Boko Haram (Islamic State West Africa Province) territorial control in its war with Nigeria, marking each town reportedly under the group's control. Includes the Sambisa Forest and conflict areas along the shores of Lake Chad and the borders of Cameroon and Niger.
Yet another IS affiliate group - Nigeria's "Boko Haram" - is holding onto some territory in West Africa at this time.
2015.09.15 A map report from US think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) claims that the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) controls seven district centers in southeastern Nangarhar province. Though IS-loyal fighters are thought to be active in at least that many districts, and certainly control some rural areas, other reporting does not support the claim that they have control of any district centers. The report will later be removed from the organization's website for unknown reasons.

Another ISW report from three months later will say that "no district centers" have yet come under IS control, reporting only that IS "controls populated locations in multiple districts of southern Nangarhar".

2015.09.25 The Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a Taliban-affiliated militia, claims it holds "many territories" on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border, and provides photographic evidence of its presence along the Amu Darya river, likely in Qala-i-Zal district of Kunduz province.

Meanwhile, a UN report concludes that IS in Afghanistan includes a core contingent of 70 fighters sent from Syria and Iraq, and that about 10% of anti-government fighters in Afghanistan, reported from 25 different provinces, are open IS sympathizers. However, it says that most groups using IS branding are not in conflict with the Taliban, with the exception of groups in Nangarhar province.

2015.09.28 The Taliban reportedly capture most of Kunduz city - the first provincial capital they have controlled since being ousted from power in 2001 - in a three-pronged attack. The group also captures neighboring Khanabad on the same day. The nearby districts of Imam Sahib, Aliabad, Dasht-i-Archi, and Chardara are also believed to be Taliban-controlled by this time.

2015.09.29 Afghan forces that had withdrawn to Kunduz airport, about 10 km south of the city center, fail in their initial efforts to push back into the city, with Taliban fighters instead surrounding the airport. Military and government facilities in neighboring Takhar province are also reportedly under siege by the Taliban, while Taliban forces along the main road southwest of Aliabad prevent army reinforcements from arriving at Kunduz from the south.

2015.09.30 The Taliban claim to have captured Khaki Safed district in Farah province. Yangi Qala, Ishkamish, and Bangi districts of Takhar province, close to Kunduz, have also reportedly come under the group's control within the past three days.

Late at night, Afghan and US ground forces again launch a counter-attack against the Taliban in Kunduz, with the help of US airstrikes.

2015.10.01 Government forces reportedly recapture much, but not all, of Kunduz city, as well as the administrative center (but not surrounding areas) of Imam Sahib district. A member of the Afghan parliament announces that Warduj district in Badakhshan province has come completely under Taliban control.

2015.10.02 Baharak district in Badakhshan province is captured by the Taliban. Other districts reportedly captured by the Taliban in the past five days include Khwaja Ghar in Takhar province, Qala-i-Zal in Kunduz province, and Tala wa Barfak in Baghlan province. Taliban fighters still control some parts of Kunduz city.

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Graphic of the Afghan flag used under CC BY-SA license (source).