Taliban Captures Key District In Helmand Province After Afghan Forces Pull Out

Taliban fighters took over the strategic district center of Sangin in Helmand province on March 23 after government forces pulled out of the area.

The Resolute Support Mission said the district center was abandoned as part of a move to a new headquarters two kilometers to the south, and U.S. and Afghan forces deliberately destroyed buildings, equipment, and inoperable vehicles before leaving.

The Afghan forces "defended the district center for two months and left on their terms. The only thing they left to the Taliban is rubble and dirt," the mission said on Facebook.

A Taliban spokesman had said the militant group captured the police headquarters and military base overnight, seizing equipment left behind by retreating government forces.

A spokesman for Helmand's governor said Afghan forces made a "tactical withdrawal" from the district center to avoid civilian casualties.

Sangin was the site of intense fighting for years after the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

More U.S. and British soldiers were killed while defending Sangin than in any of Afghanistan's 400 other provincial districts.

The district, which accounts for the bulk of Afghanistan’s opium production, is strategically placed between the Helmand River and neighboring Kandahar Province.

U.S. and NATO forces handed over responsibility for the security of Sangin to Afghan government forces in 2013.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, The Washington Post, and The New York Times