Nearly 14 years after the U.S. invasion that toppled the Taliban regime, the militant group is making gains. On August 26, the Musa Qala district in Helmand province fell to the Taliban for the first time since 2007.
“The deputy defense minister is in Helmand right now, and an operation is ongoing in full force to retake the district,” said Dawlat Waziri, an Afghan defense ministry spokesman.
NATO’s Resolute Support coalition said U.S. aircraft had dropped bombs on Musa Qala nine times August 27, and that some foreign soldiers were helping on the ground.
The fall of Musa Qala comes shortly after the Taliban grabbed the neighboring district of Nawzad. Combined with a third district to the north, the Taliban now sit on a big chunk of Helmand, controlling lucrative opium production and major routes into Iran and Pakistan used to smuggle heroin to Europe.