WASHINGTON, August 14 (Sputnik) – Optimistic assessments of US progress in the 16-year Afghan war belie stunning battlefield losses in recent weeks that reflect a shift in the conflict from stalemate to probable defeat of American-backed forces, the private intelligence firm Soufan Group said in a new report on Tuesday.
The grim assessment was based on Afghan army performance in a battle to defend the strategic provincial capital of Ghazni, which began with a Taliban offensive on August 10.
“With this attack, the Taliban showed both the limitations of even the best Afghan units, as well as the increasing reach and the strengthening grasp of Taliban forces,” the report said.
US officials have downplayed the significance of the attack on Ghazni, saying that the Taliban gained nothing tactically, operationally or strategically, according to published reports.
However, the Soufan report noted that the US waged 16 airstrikes to protect Ghazni from being overrun by insurgents in battles that killed more than 200 Afghan soldiers, many of whom were highly trained commandos.
“The fact that in 2018 the Afghan government requires substantial direct US combat support to avoid losing the provincial capital city of Ghazni is an undeniable indictment of the overall status of the war,” the report said.
Similar battles in recent weeks, even in areas of the country not traditionally controlled by the Taliban, led the Soufan Group to conclude in its report that the conflict is no longer a stalemate, but that the war is being lost.