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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taliban Recapture 3 Districts

HERAT, Afghanistan -- Taliban insurgents have captured a third district in western Afghanistan, local officials said Monday, defying assertions that rebels are unable to mount large offensives.

The Taliban restarted their insurgency two years ago to topple the pro-Western Afghan government and eject the 50,000 foreign troops, expanding their operations farther from the mainly Pashtun south, where they are strongest.

Western forces say the Taliban's greater reliance this year on suicide and roadside bombs is a result of heavy battlefield casualties that they and Afghan troops have inflicted on the rebels and the insurgents' inability to hold ground.

But in the last week, the Taliban have captured three districts in the western province of Farah, bordering Iran, forcing lightly armed Afghan police to flee and defying Afghan and foreign forces to retake the lost ground.

First, Taliban rebels captured the Farah district of Gulistan a week ago, then on Wednesday took nearby Bakwa. On Sunday, the insurgents seized Khak-e Sefid without a fight.

"Khake-e Sefid district fell into Taliban hands yesterday without any resistance from Afghan forces," said Qadir Daqiq, a Farah council member.

Taliban forces had been building up around Khak-e Sefid for some days, a Western security analyst said. The rebels in Farah have been receiving arms through a Taliban leader near the Iranian border, he said on condition of anonymity.