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How Heroin Defeated America In Afghanistan-The War On Drugs

 

Kashmir The Story Full Documentary

The  History & Timelines Of Kashmir Valley Part One 

Kashmir The Story Full Documentary

The  History & Timelines Of Kashmir Valley Part Two

The Taliban's Message To President Biden - VICE SHOW TIME

Afghanistan Life In Taliban Country- FRANCE24  in English

Drug trade In Afghanistan 

 

From 1996 to 1999, the Taliban controlled 96% of Afghanistan's poppy fields and made opium its largest source of revenue. Taxes on opium exports became one of the mainstays of Taliban income. According to Rashid, "drug money funded the weapons, ammunition and fuel for the war". In The New York Times, the Finance Minister of the United Front, Wahidullah Sabawoon, declared the Taliban had no annual budget but that they "appeared to spend US$300 million a year, nearly all of it on war". He added that the Taliban had come to increasingly rely on three sources of money: "poppy, the Pakistanis and bin Laden".

By 2000 Afghanistan accounted for an estimated 75% of the world's opium supply and in 2000 produced an estimated 3276 tonnes from 82,171 hectares (203,050 acres). Omar then banned opium cultivation and production dropped to an estimated 74 metric tonnes from 1,685 hectares (4,160 acres).  Some observers say the ban – which came in a bid for international recognition at the United Nations – was issued only to raise opium prices and increase profit from the sale of large existing stockpiles. 1999 had yielded a record crop and had been followed by a lower but still large 2000 harvest. The trafficking of accumulated stocks continued in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, the UN mentioned the "existence of significant stocks of opiates accumulated during previous years of bumper harvests". In September 2001 – before the 11 September attacks against the US – the Taliban allegedly authorized Afghan peasants to sow opium again. 

Soon after the invasion opium production increased markedly.  By 2005, Afghanistan was producing 90% of the world's opium, most of which was processed into heroin and sold in Europe and Russia. In 2009, the BBC reported that "UN findings say an opium market worth $65bn (£39bn) funds global terrorism, caters to 15 million addicts, and kills 100,000 people every year".

United States officials stated that winning the War on drugs in Afghanistan is integral for winning the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and asked for international assistance in drug eradication efforts.

According to a 2018 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US spent $8.6 billion since 2002 to stop Afghanistan's drug trade and deny the Taliban a revenue source. A May 2021 SIGAR report estimated that the Taliban earn 60% of their annual revenue from the trade, while UN officials estimated more than $400 million was earned by the Taliban from the trade between 2018 and 2019, however other experts have disputed this and estimated that the Taliban earns at most $40 million annually from the drug trade.

 
Australian and Afghan soldiers patrol the poppy fields in the Baluchi Valley Region, April 2010.

 
Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan's Takhar Province on 9 September 2001

 
U.S. Humvee crossing water in 2002

Afghanistan 1950s Back to the Future BBC News

What Really Happened In Afghanistan

Marianne Williamson With Author Sarah Chayes Part One

What Really Happened In Afghanistan

Marianne Williamson With Author Sarah Chayes Part Two

Noam Chomsky Talks Afghanistan

John Pilger Talks On Afghanistan 

 

Collage of the War in Afghanistan (2001-present).png


Clockwise from top-left: A US Air Force fighter aircraft dropping JDAMs on a cave in eastern Afghanistan; US soldiers in a firefight with Taliban forces in Kunar Province; An Afghan National Army soldier surveying atop a Humvee; Afghan and US soldiers move through snow in Logar Province; victorious Taliban forces secure Kabul; An Afghan soldier surveying a valley in Parwan Province; British troops preparing to board a Chinook during Operation Tor Shezada.
(For a map of the current military situation in Afghanistan, see here.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_in_afghanistan_(2001%E2%80%93present)

 
A young Afghan girl in Qalat pictured by the 116th Infantry Battalion before receiving school supplies in 2011
 
 
Afghanistan opium poppy cultivation, 1994–2016 (hectares)

Canadian Forces personnel carry the casket of a fallen comrade onto an aircraft at Kandahar Air Field, 17 July 2009
 
Foreign donated clothing being handed out by an Afghan civil officer to children at a refugee camp, 2011
 
 
Gathering outside Afghan embassy in Tehran to condemn the 2021 Kabul school bombing
 
 
Victims of the Narang night raid that killed at least 10 Afghan civilians, December 2009
 
 
Taliban fighters in Kabul, 17 August 2021
 
 
Number of fatalities among Western coalition soldiers involved in the execution of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2001 to 2019.
 
 
22 June 2007 demonstration in Québec City against the Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan
 
 
U.K. service members of the Royal Air Force Regiment stop on a road while conducting a combat mission near Kandahar Airfield
 
 
Home-made sign (2015) in Devine, Texas, south of San Antonio, welcomes returning troops from the war in Afghanistan.
 
 
22 December 2009 protest against the war, New York City
 
 
Former Taliban fighters turn in their weapons as part of a reintegration program in Ghor Province
 
 
US representative Zalmay Khalilzad (left) and Taliban representative Abdul Ghani Baradar (right) sign the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar on 29 February 2020
 
 
Afghan women sewing school uniforms using materials donated by U.S companies, 2003
 
 
A village elder speaking with an Afghan policeman in Panjwayi District, Kandahar, February 2011.
 
 
A US marine interacting with Afghan children in Helmand Province
 
 
US, British and Afghan security forces train together in an aerial reaction force exercise at Camp Qargha in Kabul, 16 January 2018.
 
 
A-29 plane of the Afghan Air Force
 
 
U.S. soldiers firing a 120 mortar
 
 
U.S. Army soldiers watch the surrounding hills for insurgents during a three-hour gun battle in Kunar province.
 
 
An Afghan soldier surveying a valley during an anti-Taliban operation
 
 
A U.S. soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Zabul, 2009
 
 
US Marines and ANA soldiers take cover in Marja on 13 February 2010 during their offensive to secure the city from the Taliban.
 
 
Soldiers from the Afghan army patrolling a village in Khost Province in 2010
 
 
Afghan Commandos practice infiltration techniques, 1 April 2010 at Camp Morehead in the outer regions of Kabul.
 
 
Map showing insurgent and government-controlled areas of Afghanistan, as of 23 January 2019
 
 
Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama in 2009
 
 
Barack Obama with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in 2009
 
 
Taliban fighters patrolling Kabul in US-supplied Humvee, 17 August 2021
 
 
Afghan teenage farmer murdered on 15 January 2010 by a group of US Army soldiers called the Kill Team
 
 
Burning hashish seized in Operation Albatross, a combined operation of Afghan officials, NATO and the DEA
 
 
U.S. President Donald Trump with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in October 2017
 
 
USAF pilots fly a CH-47 Chinook in Nangarhar, April 2017
 
 
A USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off at Bagram Airfield for a combat sortie, 14 March 2016
 
 
TAAC-E advisers in February 2
 
 
U.S. Army soldier in Nangarhar Province, 6 January 2015
 
 
A German Bundeswehr soldier, part of ISAF's Regional Command North at Camp Marmal
 
Location of the MSF hospital in Kunduz destroyed by a U.S. airstrike
 
 
Green Berets of the 10th SFG memorialize two comrades who were killed in action during the Battle of Boz Qandahari on 2–3 November 2016
 
 
 
Russian made Mil Mi-8 chopper landing at Forward Operating Base Airborne to deliver mail and supplies
 
 
Resolute Support Colors presented at Kabul on 28 December 2014, after the ISAF colors are encased
 
 
Soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard and the Latvian Army patrol through a village in Konar province.
 
 
Troops from the 31st and 33rd Kandak, Afghan National Army, execute a departure for Operation Valley Flood
 
 
Coalition forces conducting an airdrop in Shahjoy District, Zabul
 
Afghan Army units neutralizes an IED in Sangin, Helmand province
 
 
U.S. soldiers walk by local Afghan boys during a patrol in Gardez
 
 
US Army soldiers boarding a Black Hawk in Nari District, near the Pakistani border
 
 
 
An Australian service light armored vehicle drives through Tangi Valley, 29 March 2011
 
 
Chinooks transporting troops to Bagram
 

The history of the Afghanistan war

 
https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/15214375
 
Near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan

The war in Afghanistan began back in 2001.

A group called the Taliban had controlled most of the country since 1996 but they were overthrown in November 2001 by British and American armed forces, as well as lots of Afghan fighters from a group called the Northern Alliance.

Why was there a war?

During the time that the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, they allowed an organisation called al-Qaeda to have training camps there.

In September 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The United States believed that Osama Bin Laden - who was the head of al-Qaeda - was the man behind these attacks.

There was a lot of international pressure on the Afghan leaders to hand over Osama Bin Laden. When the Taliban didn't do this, the United States decided they would use their armed forces.

In October 2001, the USA began bombing Afghanistan. They targeted bin Laden's al-Qaeda fighters and also the Taliban.

In November 2001, the Northern Alliance took control of the Afghan capital Kabul. They were being helped by the US and other countries that agreed with it, including the UK.

The Taliban were quickly driven out of the capital city, Kabul, but even today Afghanistan remains a dangerous place.

It was in 2011, ten years after the war in Afghanistan began that Osama bin Laden was eventually found by American soldiers in Pakistan, where he was shot and killed.

British troops and forces from other countries are still in Afghanistan, trying to help the government build a stable nation.

The UK government plans to take all troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The War in Afghanistan was a conflict that took place from 2001 to 2021 in Afghanistan.  It started when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan[74] and toppled the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate.  The war ended with the Taliban regaining power after a 19 years and 8 months insurgency  against allied NATO and Afghan Armed Forces.  It was the longest war in United States history, surpassing the Vietnam War (1955–1975) by roughly five months.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, US president George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban, then-de facto ruling Afghanistan, hand over Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the attacks and until then freely operating within the country. The Taliban's refusal to extradite him  led to the invasion of the country;  the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies were mostly defeated and expelled from major population centers by US-led forces and the Northern Alliance, which had been fighting the Taliban since 1996.

Despite failing to find Bin Laden after his escape to the White Mountains, the US and a coalition of over 40 countries (including all NATO members) remained in the country and formed a UN sanctioned security mission called International Security Assistance Force to consolidate a new democratic authority in the country and prevent the return of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.   At the Bonn Conference, new Afghan interim authorities (mostly from the Northern Alliance) elected Hamid Karzai to head the Afghan Interim Administration. A rebuilding effort across the country was also made following the collapse of the Taliban regime.

Meanwhile, the Taliban reorganized under Mullah Omar and in 2003 launched an insurgency against the new Afghan government. Insurgents from the Taliban and other groups waged asymmetric warfare with guerrilla raids and ambushes in the countryside, suicide attacks against urban targets, turncoat killings against coalition forces and reprisals against perceived collaborators. The Taliban exploited weaknesses in the Afghan government to reassert influence across rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan. Violence eventually escalated to a point where large parts of Afghanistan were "falling" into Taliban hands by 2007.  ISAF responded by massively increasing troops for counter-insurgency operations to "clear and hold" villages, reaching its peak in 2011 when roughly 140,000 foreign troops operated under ISAF and US command in Afghanistan.

Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 (the original casus belli), leaders of the NATO alliance commenced an exit strategy for withdrawing their forces On 28 December 2014, NATO formally ended ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan and officially transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government. The NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed the same day to assist in consolidating the newly transferred responsibilities. 

Unable to eliminate the Taliban through military means, coalition forces and separately the government of president Ashraf Ghani[ turned to diplomacy to end the conflict. These efforts culminated on 29 February 2020, when the United States and the Taliban signed a conditional peace deal in Doha which required that US troops withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months so long as the Taliban cooperated with the terms of the agreement not to "allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including Al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies". The Afghan government was not a party to the deal and rejected its terms regarding release of prisoners. 

The target U.S. withdrawal date was altered by president Joe Biden until a final date of 31 August was set.  The Taliban, after the original deadline had expired, and coinciding with the troop withdrawal, launched a broad offensive throughout the summer in which they captured most of Afghanistan, finally taking Kabul on 15 August 2021. The same day, the president of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban declared victory and the war over.  The Taliban takeover was confirmed by the United States and on 30 August the last American military plane departed Afghanistan, ending almost 20 years of western military presence in the country. 

According to the Costs of War Project at Brown University, the war killed 176,000 people in Afghanistan; 46,319 civilians, 69,095 military and police and at least 52,893 opposition fighters. According to the UN, after the 2001 invasion, more than 5.7 million former refugees returned to Afghanistan. However, since the renewed Taliban offensive of 2021, 2.6 million Afghans remain refugees or have fled, mostly to Pakistan and Iran, and another 4 million Afghans remain internally displaced persons within the country.

The war is normally named the War in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 to distinguish it from other wars, notably the Soviet-Afghan War. Sometimes they are divided between the 2001 to 2014 period (during the ISAF mission) and 2015 to 2021 (during the RS mission). The war was codenamed by the U.S. as Operation Enduring Freedom from 2001 to 2014 and as Operation Freedom's Sentinel from 2015 to 2021. Alternatively it has been called the U.S. War in Afghanistan in certain countries. In Afghanistan itself, the war is known as simply the "War in Afghanistan" (Dariجنگ در افغانستان‎ Jang dar AfghanestanPashtoد افغانستان جګړه‎ Da Afganistan Jangra).

Before the start of war

Origins of Afghanistan's civil war

Afghanistan's political order began to break down in the 1970s. First, Mohammed Daoud Khan seized power in the July 1973 Afghan coup d'état, where the monarchy was overthrown in favour of a republic. Daoud Khan was then killed in the April 1978 Saur Revolution, a coup in which the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) took control of the government.

 PDPA pushed for a socialist transformation by abolishing arranged marriages, promoting mass literacy and reforming land ownership. This undermined the traditional tribal order and provoked opposition across rural areas. PDPA's crackdown was met with open rebellion including the 1979 Herat uprising. PDPA was beset by internal leadership differences and was affected by an internal coup on 11 September 1979 when Hafizullah Amin ousted Nur Muhammad Taraki. The Soviet Union, sensing PDPA weakness, intervened militarily three months laterto depose Amin and install another PDPA faction led by Babrak Karmal.

The entry of Soviet forces in Afghanistan in December 1979 intensified the Cold War  and prompted the Soviet rivals, the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China to support rebels fighting against the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In contrast to the secular and socialist government, which controlled the cities, religiously motivated mujahideen held sway in the majority of the countryside. The CIA worked with Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence to funnel foreign support for the mujahideen. The war also attracted Arab volunteers known as "Afghan Arabs", including Osama bin Laden.

After the withdrawal of the Soviet military from Afghanistan in May 1989, the PDPA regime under Mohammad Najibullah held on until 1992 when the dissolution of the Soviet Union deprived the regime of aid and the defection of Uzbek general Abdul Rashid Dostum cleared the approach to Kabul. The mujahideen took control of Kabul on 16 April 1992, removed Najibullah from power and proclaimed the founding of the Islamic State of Afghanistan.

Warlord rule (1992–1996)

In 1992, the mujahideen commander Burhanuddin Rabbani officially became president of the Islamic State of Afghanistan but he had to battle other warlords for control of Kabul. In late 1994, Rabbani's defense minister, Ahmad Shah Massoud, defeated Hekmatyar in Kabul and ended the ongoing bombardment of the capital.  Massoud tried to initiate a nationwide political process with the goal of national consolidation. Other warlords including Ismail Khan in the west and Dostum in the north maintained their fiefdoms.[ 

In 1994, Mohammed Omar, a mujahideen member who taught at a Pakistani madrassa, returned to Kandahar and formed the Taliban movement. His followers were religious students known as the Talib and they sought to end warlordism through stricter adherence to Sharia. By November 1994, the Taliban had captured all of Kandahar Province. They declined the government's offer to join in a coalition government and marched on Kabul in 1995. 

The Taliban's early victories in 1994 were followed by a series of costly defeats.  Pakistan "provided strong support" to the Taliban.  Analysts such as Amin Saikal described the group as developing into a proxy force for Pakistan's regional interests which the Taliban denied.  The Taliban started shelling Kabul in early 1995, but were driven back by Massoud.

On 27 September 1996, the Taliban, with military support by Pakistan and financial support from Saudi Arabia, seized Kabul and founded the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

 
Afghan guerilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud (right) with the Pashtun anti-Taliban leader and later Vice President of the Karzai administrationHaji Abdul Qadir
 
 

Taliban Emirate vs Northern Alliance

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was recognized only by PakistanSaudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and by the partially-recognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The Taliban imposed their fundamentalist Deobandi interpretation of Islam in areas under their control, issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative. According to the Pakistani expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban. 

Massoud and Dostum, former arch-enemies, created a United Front against the Taliban, the Northern Alliance.[128] In addition to Massoud's Tajik force and Dostum's Uzbeks, the United Front included Hazara factions and Pashtun forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq and Haji Abdul Qadir. Abdul Haq also gathered a number of defecting Pashtun Taliban.  Both agreed to work together with the exiled Afghan king Zahir Shah.  The Northern Alliance received varying degrees of support from Russia, Iran, Tajikistan and India. The Taliban captured Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 and drove Dostum into exile.

According to the United Nations (UN), the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001. The Taliban especially targeted the Shia Hazaras.  In retaliation for the execution of 3,000 Taliban prisoners by Uzbek general Abdul Malik Pahlawan in 1997, the Taliban executed about 4,000 civilians after taking Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. 

Bin Laden's 055 Brigade was responsible for mass killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the United Nations quotes eyewitnesses in some villages describing "Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people". 

By 2001, the Taliban controlled as much as 90% of Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance confined to the country's northeast corner. Fighting alongside Taliban forces were some 28,000–30,000 Pakistanis (usually also Pashtun) and 2,000–3,000 Al-Qaeda militants.

Many of the Pakistanis were recruited from madrassas. A 1998 document by the US Department of State confirmed that "20–40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani".

The document said that a number of the parents of those Pakistani nationals "know nothing regarding their child's military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan". According to the US State Department report and reports by Human Rights Watch, other Pakistani nationals fighting in Afghanistan were regular soldiers especially from the Frontier Corps but also from the Pakistani Army providing direct combat support. 

Al-Qaeda

In August 1996, Bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan and arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He had founded his international Al-Qaeda network in the late 1980s to support the Mujahideen's war against the Soviets but became disillusioned by infighting among warlords. He grew close to Mullah Omar and moved Al-Qaeda's operations to eastern Afghanistan, a safe haven as he was under the protection of the Taliban there. 

The 9/11 Commission in the US found that under the Taliban, al-Qaeda was able to use Afghanistan as a place to train and indoctrinate fighters, import weapons, coordinate with other jihadists, and plot terrorist actions.  While al-Qaeda maintained its own camps in Afghanistan, it also supported training camps of other organizations. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 men passed through these facilities before 9/11, most of whom were sent to fight for the Taliban against the United Front. A smaller number were inducted into al-Qaeda. 

After the August 1998 United States embassy bombings were linked to bin Laden, President Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes on militant training camps in Afghanistan. US officials pressed the Taliban to surrender bin Laden. In 1999, the international community imposed sanctions on the Taliban, calling for bin Laden to be surrendered. The Taliban repeatedly rebuffed these demands.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Activities Division paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama bin Laden. These teams planned several operations but did not receive the order to proceed from President Clinton. Their efforts built relationships with Afghan leaders that proved essential in the 2001 invasion. Change in US policy toward Afghanistan

During the Clinton administration, the US tended to favor Pakistan and until 1998–1999 had no clear policy toward Afghanistan. In 1997, for example, the US State Department's Robin Raphel told Massoud to surrender to the Taliban. Massoud responded that, as long as he controlled an area the size of his hat, he would continue to defend it from the Taliban.round  the same time, top foreign policy officials in the Clinton administration flew to northern Afghanistan to try to persuade the United Front not to take advantage of a chance to make crucial gains against the Taliban. They insisted it was the time for a cease-fire and an arms embargo. At the time, Pakistan began a "Berlin-like airlift to resupply and re-equip the Taliban", financed with Saudi money.US policy toward Afghanistan changed after the 1998 US embassy bombings. Subsequently, Osama bin Laden was indicted for his involvement in the embassy bombings. In 1999 both the US and the United Nations enacted sanctions against the Taliban via United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, which demanded the Taliban surrender Osama bin Laden for trial in the US and close all terrorist bases in Afghanistan.  The only collaboration between Massoud and the US at the time was an effort with the CIA to trace bin Laden following the 1998 bombings.

 The US and the European Union provided no support to Massoud for the fight against the Taliban.

By 2001 the change of policy sought by CIA officers who knew Massoud was underway.  CIA lawyers, working with officers in the Near East Division and Counter-terrorist Center, began to draft a formal finding for President George W. Bush's signature, authorizing a covert action program in Afghanistan. It would be the first in a decade to seek to influence the course of the Afghan war in favor of Massoud.  Richard A. Clarke, chair of the Counter-Terrorism Security Group under the Clinton administration, and later an official in the Bush Administration, allegedly presented a plan to incoming Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in January 2001. 

A change in US policy was effected in August 2001. The Bush administration agreed on a plan to start supporting Massoud. A meeting of top national security officials agreed that the Taliban would be presented with an ultimatum to hand over bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives. If the Taliban refused, the US would provide covert military aid to anti-Taliban groups. If both those options failed, "the deputies agreed that the United States would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime through more direct action". 

Massoud's assassination on the eve of 9/11

 

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was recognized only by PakistanSaudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and by the partially-recognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The Taliban imposed their fundamentalist Deobandi interpretation of Islam in areas under their control, issuing edicts forbidding women to work outside the home, attend school or to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.  According to the Pakistani expert Ahmed Rashid, "between 1994 and 1999, an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Pakistanis trained and fought in Afghanistan" on the side of the Taliban. 

Massoud and Dostum, former arch-enemies, created a United Front against the Taliban, the Northern Alliance.  In addition to Massoud's Tajik force and Dostum's Uzbeks, the United Front included Hazara factions and Pashtun forces under the leadership of commanders such as Abdul Haq and Haji Abdul Qadir. Abdul Haq also gathered a number of defecting Pashtun Taliban.  Both agreed to work together with the exiled Afghan king Zahir Shah.  The Northern Alliance received varying degrees of support from Russia, Iran, Tajikistan and India. The Taliban captured Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998 and drove Dostum into exile.

According to the United Nations (UN), the Taliban, while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, committed systematic massacres against civilians. UN officials stated that there had been "15 massacres" between 1996 and 2001. The Taliban especially targeted the Shia Hazaras.  In retaliation for the execution of 3,000 Taliban prisoners by Uzbek general Abdul Malik Pahlawan in 1997, the Taliban executed about 4,000 civilians after taking Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998. 

Bin Laden's 055 Brigade was responsible for mass killings of Afghan civilians. The report by the United Nations quotes eyewitnesses in some villages describing "Arab fighters carrying long knives used for slitting throats and skinning people". 

By 2001, the Taliban controlled as much as 90% of Afghanistan with the Northern Alliance confined to the country's northeast corner. Fighting alongside Taliban forces were some 28,000–30,000 Pakistanis (usually also Pashtun) and 2,000–3,000 Al-Qaeda militants

 Many of the Pakistanis were recruited from madrassas. A 1998 document by the US Department of State confirmed that "20–40 percent of [regular] Taliban soldiers are Pakistani". The document said that a number of the parents of those Pakistani nationals "know nothing regarding their child's military involvement with the Taliban until their bodies are brought back to Pakistan". According to the US State Department report and reports by Human Rights Watch, other Pakistani nationals fighting in Afghanistan were regular soldiers especially from the Frontier Corps but also from the Pakistani Army providing direct combat support. 

Al-Qaeda

In August 1996, Bin Laden was forced to leave Sudan and arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. He had founded his international Al-Qaeda network in the late 1980s to support the Mujahideen's war against the Soviets but became disillusioned by infighting among warlords. He grew close to Mullah Omar and moved Al-Qaeda's operations to eastern Afghanistan, a safe haven as he was under the protection of the Taliban there. 

The 9/11 Commission in the US found that under the Taliban, al-Qaeda was able to use Afghanistan as a place to train and indoctrinate fighters, import weapons, coordinate with other jihadists, and plot terrorist actions.  al-Qaeda maintained its own camps in Afghanistan, it also supported training camps of other organizations. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 men passed through these facilities before 9/11, most of whom were sent to fight for the Taliban against the United Front. A smaller number were inducted into al-Qaeda. 

After the August 1998 United States embassy bombings were linked to bin Laden, President Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes on militant training camps in Afghanistan. US officials pressed the Taliban to surrender bin Laden. In 1999, the international community imposed sanctions on the Taliban, calling for bin Laden to be surrendered. The Taliban repeatedly rebuffed these demands.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Activities Division paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama bin Laden. These teams planned several operations but did not receive the order to proceed from President Clinton. Their efforts built relationships with Afghan leaders that proved essential in the 2001 invasion. 

Change in US policy toward Afghanistan

During the Clinton administration, the US tended to favor Pakistan and until 1998–1999 had no clear policy toward Afghanistan. In 1997, for example, the US State Department's Robin Raphel told Massoud to surrender to the Taliban. Massoud responded that, as long as he controlled an area the size of his hat, he would continue to defend it from the Taliban.  Around the same time, top foreign policy officials in the Clinton administration flew to northern Afghanistan to try to persuade the United Front not to take advantage of a chance to make crucial gains against the Taliban. They insisted it was the time for a cease-fire and an arms embargo. At the time, Pakistan began a "Berlin-like airlift to resupply and re-equip the Taliban", financed with Saudi money. 

US policy toward Afghanistan changed after the 1998 US embassy bombings. Subsequently, Osama bin Laden was indicted for his involvement in the embassy bombings. In 1999 both the US and the United Nations enacted sanctions against the Taliban via United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, which demanded the Taliban surrender Osama bin Laden for trial in the US and close all terrorist bases in Afghanistan. The only collaboration between Massoud and the US at the time was an effort with the CIA to trace bin Laden following the 1998 bombings.  The US and the European Union provided no support to Massoud for the fight against the Taliban.

By 2001 the change of policy sought by CIA officers who knew Massoud was underway.  CIA lawyers, working with officers in the Near East Division and Counter-terrorist Center, began to draft a formal finding for President George W. Bush's signature, authorizing a covert action program in Afghanistan. It would be the first in a decade to seek to influence the course of the Afghan war in favor of Massoud. Richard A. Clarke, chair of the Counter-Terrorism Security Group under the Clinton administration, and later an official in the Bush Administration, allegedly presented a plan to incoming Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in January 2001. 

A change in US policy was effected in August 2001. The Bush administration agreed on a plan to start supporting Massoud. A meeting of top national security officials agreed that the Taliban would be presented with an ultimatum to hand over bin Laden and other al-Qaeda operatives. If the Taliban refused, the US would provide covert military aid to anti-Taliban groups. If both those options failed, "the deputies agreed that the United States would seek to overthrow the Taliban regime through more direct action".

 
Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan's Takhar Province on 9 September 2001

 
Ground Zero in New York following the attacks of 11 September 2001

Massoud's assassination on the eve of 9/11

Ahmad Shah Massoud was the only leader of the United Front (Northern Alliance) in Afghanistan in 2001. In the areas under his control, Massoud set up democratic institutions and signed the Women's Rights Declaration. As a consequence, a number of civilians had fled to areas under his control.  In total, estimates range up to one million people fleeing the Taliban. 

In late 2000, Massoud invited some other Afghan tribal leaders to a jirga in northern Afghanistan "to settle political turmoil in Afghanistan". Among those in attendance were Pashtun nationalists, Abdul Haq and Hamid Karzai. 

In early 2001, Massoud and several other Afghan leaders addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, asking the international community to provide humanitarian help. The Afghan envoy asserted that the Taliban and al-Qaeda had introduced "a very wrong perception of Islam" and that without the support of the Pakistani government and Osama bin Laden, the Taliban would not be able to sustain their military campaign for another year. Massoud warned that his intelligence had gathered information about an imminent, large-scale attack on US soil. 

On 9 September 2001, two French-speaking Algerians posing as journalists killed Massoud in a suicide attack in Takhar Province of Afghanistan. The two perpetrators were later alleged to be members of al-Qaeda. They were interviewing Massoud before detonating a bomb hidden in their video camera.  Both of the alleged al-Qaeda men were subsequently killed by Massoud's guards. Massoud lost his life en route in a helicopter to a hospital across the border in Tajikistan.  His funeral in his native Panjshir Valley was attended by thousands. 

September 11 attacks

On the morning of September 11, 2001, a total of 19 Arab men—15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia—carried out four coordinated attacks in the United States. Four commercial passenger jet airliners were hijacked. The hijackers – members of al-Qaeda's Hamburg cell[162] – intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and more than 2,000 people in the buildings. Both buildings collapsed within two hours from damage related to the crashes, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in ArlingtonVirginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, in rural Pennsylvania, after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C., to target the White House, or the US Capitol. No one aboard the flights survived. According to the New York State Health Department, the death toll among responders including firefighters and police was 836 as of June 2009. Total deaths were 2,996, including the 19 hijackers. 

US ultimatum to the Taliban

The Taliban publicly condemned the September 11 attacks.  US President George W. Bush issued an ultimatum to the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden, "close immediately every terrorist training camp, hand over every terrorist and their supporters, and give the United States full access to terrorist training camps for inspection." The Taliban refused, saying that Osama bin Laden was protected by the traditional Pashtun laws of hospitality.  In the weeks ahead and at the beginning of the US and NATO invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban demanded evidence of bin Laden's guilt, and subsequently offered to hand over Osama bin Laden. A Bush administration official later stated that their demands were "not subject to negotiation" and that it was "time for the Taliban to act now." 

After the US invasion, the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden to the US, instead expressing willingness to hand him over to a third country that would "never come under the pressure of the United States" if further evidence of guilt were produced. The United States responded by continuing their bombardment of Kabul airport and other cities. For their part, Al Qaeda threatened further attacks against the UK and United States.  Haji Abdul Kabir, the third most powerful figure in the ruling Taliban regime, told reporters: "If the Taliban is given evidence that Osama bin Laden is involved, we would be ready to hand him over to a third country."  At a meeting in Islamabad in October, Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the foreign minister of Afghanistan, offered to remove Osama bin Laden to the custody of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be tried for the 9/11 terror attacks. Muttawakil by this point had dropped the condition that the US furnish evidence of Osama bin Laden's involvement in the 9/11 attacks as a precondition for the transfer of Osama bin Laden by Afghanistan to the OIC for trial

Afghanistan History

 
U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Air Force Combat Controllers with Northern Alliance troops on horseback, Samangan Province
 
 
American and British special forces operators at Tora Bora, 2001

2001–2002: invasion and early operations

Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, General Tommy Franks, then-commanding general of Central Command (CENTCOM), proposed to President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the U.S. invade Afghanistan using a conventional force of 60,000 troops, preceded by six months of preparation. Rumsfeld and Bush feared that a conventional invasion of Afghanistan could bog down as had happened to the Soviets from 1979 and the British in 1842.  Rumsfeld rejected Franks's plan, saying "I want men on the ground now!" Franks returned the next day with a plan utilizing U.S. Special Forces. On 26 September 2001, fifteen days after the 9/11 attack, the U.S. covertly inserted members of the CIA's Special Activities Division led by Gary Schroen as part of team Jawbreaker into Afghanistan, forming the Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team.  They linked up with the Northern Alliance in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul. 

In October, 12-man Special Forces teams began arriving in Afghanistan to work with the CIA and Northern Alliance.  Within a few weeks the Northern Alliance, with assistance from the U.S. ground and air forces, captured several key cities from the Taliban.

The U.S. officially launched Operation Enduring Freedom on 7 October 2001, with the assistance of the United Kingdom. The two were later joined by other countries. The U.S. and its allies drove the Taliban from power and built military bases near major cities across the country. Most al-Qaeda and Taliban were not captured, escaping to neighboring Pakistan or retreating to rural or remote mountainous regions. 

On 20 December 2001, the United Nations authorized an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), with a mandate to help the Afghans maintain security in Kabul and surrounding areas. It was initially established from the headquarters of the British 3rd Mechanised Division under Major General John McColl, and for its first years numbered no more than 5,000  Its mandate did not extend beyond the Kabul area for the first few years.[184] Eighteen countries were contributing to the force in February 2002.

At the Bonn Conference in December 2001, Hamid Karzai was selected to head the Afghan Interim Administration, which after a 2002 loya jirga in Kabul became the Afghan Transitional Administration. In the popular elections of 2004, Karzai was elected president of the country, now named the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. 

Major battles of the early phase of the war included the Battle of Tora Bora (December 2001) and Operation Anaconda (March 2002).

Following the battle at Shahi-Kot, al-Qaeda fighters established sanctuaries on the Pakistani border, where they launched cross-border raids beginning in the summer of 2002. Guerrilla units, numbering between 5 and 25 men, regularly crossed the border to fire rockets at coalition bases, ambush convoys and patrols and assault non-governmental organizations. The area around the Shkin base in Paktika province saw some of the heaviest activity.

Taliban fighters remained in hiding in the rural regions of four southern provinces: Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand and Uruzgan. After Anaconda the Department of Defense requested British Royal Marines, highly trained in mountain warfare, to be deployed. In response, 45 Commando deployed under the operational codename Operation Jacana in April 2002. They conducted missions (including Operation Snipe, Operation Condor, and Operation Buzzard) over several weeks with varying results. The Taliban avoided combat. 

2003–2005 Taliban resurgence

Pamphlets by Taliban and other groups turned up strewn in towns and the countryside in early 2003, urging Islamic faithful to rise up against U.S. forces and other foreign soldiers in holy war.  On 27 January 2003, during Operation Mongoose, a band of fighters were assaulted by U.S. forces at the Adi Ghar cave complex 25 km (15 mi) north of Spin Boldak.  Eighteen rebels were reported killed with no U.S. casualties. The site was suspected to be a base for supplies and fighters coming from Pakistan. The first isolated attacks by relatively large Taliban bands on Afghan targets also appeared around that time.

Operation Valiant Strike was a major United States military ground operation in Afghanistan announced on 19 March 2003 that involved 2nd and 3rd battalions of 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment,[190] Romanian and Afghan troops. The combined forces moved through Kandahar and parts of Southern Afghanistan with the objective of eliminating Taliban enemy forces and weapons caches while also attempting to gather intelligence on Taliban activity in the area.  At the conclusion of the operation on 24 March 2003, coalition forces had detained 13 suspected Taliban fighters and confiscated more than 170 rocket-propelled grenades, 180 land mines, 20 automatic rifles and machine guns, as well as many rockets, rifles, and launchers.

In May 2003, the Taliban Supreme Court's chief justice, Abdul Salam, proclaimed that the Taliban were back, regrouped, rearmed, and ready for guerrilla war to expel U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Omar assigned five operational zones to Taliban commanders such as Dadullah, who took charge in Zabul province. 

Meanwhile, American attention is diverted from Afghanistan when US forces invade Iraq in March 2003. 

As the summer of 2003 continued, Taliban attacks gradually increased in frequency. Dozens of Afghan government soldiers, NGO humanitarian workers, and several U.S. soldiers died in the raids, ambushes and rocket attacks. Besides guerrilla attacks, Taliban fighters began building up forces in the district of Dai Chopan in Zabul Province. The Taliban decided to make a stand there. Over the course of the summer, up to 1,000 guerrillas moved there. Over 220 people, including several dozen Afghan police, were killed in August 2003.

On 11 August 2003, NATO assumed control of ISAF.  Some U.S. forces in Afghanistan operated under NATO command, while the rest remained under direct U.S. command. Taliban leader Mullah Omar reorganized the movement, and in 2003 launched an insurgency against the government and ISAF.

United States led-coalition forces carried out Operation Asbury Park on June 2, 2004, and June 17, 2004, of taskforce 1/6 BLT of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit engaged in fighting with Taliban and other anti-coalition forces in both Oruzgan Province and Zabul Province culminating in the Dai Chopan region of Afghanistan.

In late 2004, the then hidden Taliban leader Mohammed Omar announced an insurgency against "America and its puppets" (referring to transitional Afghan government forces) to "regain the sovereignty of our country." 

ALSO Afghanistan's first election under a new system is held on 9 October, 2004, with an enthusiastic turnout of 70 percent. Karzai wins 55 percent of the vote.

In late June through mid-July 2005, United States Navy Seals carried out Operation Red Wings as a joint military operation in the Pech District of Afghanistan's Kunar Province, on the slopes of a mountain named Sawtalo Sar, intending to disrupt local Taliban anti-coalition militia (ACM) activity, thus contributing to regional stability and thereby facilitating the Afghan Parliament elections scheduled for September 2005.  At the time, Taliban anti-coalition militia activity in the region was carried out most notably by a small group, led by a local man from Nangarhar ProvinceAhmad Shah, who had aspirations of regional Islamic fundamentalist prominence. He and his small group were among the primary targets of the operation.

Between 13 August and 18 August, 2005, the United States Marine Corps carried out a military operation, called Operation Whalers, that took place in the Kunar Province just weeks after the disastrous Operation Red Wings. Like Operation Red Wings, the objective of Operation Whalers was the disruption of Taliban Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) activity in the region in support of further stabilizing the region for unencumbered voter turnout for the 2005 Afghan parliamentary electionTaliban Anti-Coalition Militia activity dropped substantially and subsequent human intelligence and signals intelligence revealed that Ahmad Shah had been seriously wounded. Shah, who sought to disrupt the parliamentary election, was not able to undertake any significant Taliban Anti-Coalition operations subsequent to Operation Whalers in Kunar or neighboring provinces. 

In late August 2005, Afghan government forces attacked, backed by U.S. troops with air support. After a one-week battle, Taliban forces were routed with up to 124 fighters killed.

Drones in Pakistan

From January 2006, a multinational ISAF contingent started to replace U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan. The British 16 Air Assault Brigade (later reinforced by Royal Marines) formed the core of the force, along with troops and helicopters from Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. The initial force consisted of roughly 3,300 British,  2,300 Canadian, 1,963 Dutch, 300 Australian, 290 Danish and 150 Estonian troops. In January 2006, NATO's focus in southern Afghanistan was to form Provincial Reconstruction Teams with the British leading in Helmand while the Netherlands and Canada would lead similar deployments in Orūzgān and Kandahar, respectively. Local Taliban figures pledged to resist. 

On 1 March 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush along with his wife Laura made a visit to Afghanistan where they greeted US soldiers, met with Afghan officials and later appeared at a special inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Embassy.

Operation Mountain Thrust was launched on 17 May 2006. In July, Canadian Forces, supported by U.S., British, Dutch and Danish forces, launched Operation Medusa. A combined force of Dutch and Australians launched a successful offensive between late April to mid July 2006 to push the Taliban out of the Chora and Baluchi areas. On 18 September 2006 Italian special forces of Task Force 45 and airborne troopers of the "Trieste" infantry regiment of the Rapid Reaction Corps composed of Italian and Spanish forces, took part in the Wyconda Pincer operation in the districts of Bala Buluk and Pusht Rod, in Farah Province. Italian forces killed at least 70 Taliban.

 Further NATO operations included the Battle of PanjwaiiOperation Mountain Fury and Operation Falcon Summit. NATO achieved tactical victories and area denial, but the Taliban were not completely defeated. NATO operations continued into 2007.

On 29 May 2006, while according to American website The Spokesman-Review Afghanistan faced "a mounting threat from armed Taliban fighters in the countryside," a US military truck that was part of a convoy in Kabul lost control and plowed into twelve civilian vehicles, killing one and injuring six people. The surrounding crowd got angry and a riot arose, lasting all day ending with 20 dead and 160 injured. When stone-throwing and gunfire had come from a crowd of some 400 men, the US troops had used their weapons "to defend themselves" while leaving the scene, a US military spokesman said. A correspondent for the Financial Times in Kabul suggested that this was the outbreak of "a ground swell of resentment" and "growing hostility to foreigners" that had been growing and building since 2004, and may also have been triggered by a US air strike a week earlier in southern Afghanistan killing 30 civilians, where she assumed that "the Taliban had been sheltering in civilian houses".

In January and February 2007, British Royal Marines mounted Operation Volcano to clear insurgents from firing-points in the village of Barikju, north of Kajaki.  Other major operations during this period included Operation Achilles (March–May) and Operation Lastay Kulang. The UK Ministry of Defence announced its intention to bring British troop levels in the country up to 7,700 (committed until 2009).  Further operations, such as Operation Silver and Operation Silicon, took place to keep up the pressure on the Taliban in the hope of blunting their expected spring offensive. 

On 4 March 2007, U.S. Marines killed at least 12 civilians and injured 33 in Shinwar district, Nangarhar,  in a response to a bomb ambush. The event became known as the "Shinwar massacre". The 120 member Marine unit responsible for the attack were ordered to leave the country by Army Major General Frank Kearney, because the incident damaged the unit's relations with the local Afghan population.

On 12 May 2007, ISAF forces killed Mullah Dadullah. Eleven other Taliban fighters died in the same firefight.

During the summer, NATO forces achieved tactical victories at the Battle of Chora in Orūzgān, where Dutch and Australian ISAF forces were deployed.

On 16 August, eight civilians including a pregnant woman and a baby died when, few hours after an insurgent IED ambush damaged a Polish wheeled armored vehicle, Polish soldiers shelled the village of Nangar Khel, Paktika Province. Seven soldiers were charged with war crimes, after locals stated the Polish unit fired mortar rounds and machine guns into a wedding celebration without provocation.

Western officials and analysts estimated the strength of Taliban forces at about 10,000 fighters fielded at any given time. Of that number, only 2,000 to 3,000 were highly motivated, full-time insurgents. The rest were volunteer units, made up of young Afghans, angered by deaths of Afghan civilians in military airstrikes and American detention of Muslim prisoners who had been held for years without being charged.[220] In 2007, more foreign fighters came into Afghanistan than ever before, according to officials. Approximately 100 to 300 full-time combatants were foreigners, many from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps even Turkey and western China. They were reportedly more violent, incontrollable and extreme, often bringing superior video-production or bombmaking expertise. 

On 2 November security forces killed a top-ranking militant, Mawlawi Abdul Manan, after he was caught crossing the border. The Taliban confirmed his death.  On 10 November the Taliban ambushed a patrol in eastern Afghanistan. This attack brought the U.S. death toll for 2007 to 100, making it the Americans' deadliest year in Afghanistan. 

The Battle of Musa Qala took place in December. Afghan units were the principal fighting force, supported by British forces. Taliban forces were forced out of the town.

On 13 June 2008, Taliban fighters demonstrated their ongoing strength, liberating all prisoners in Kandahar jail. The operation freed 1200 prisoners, 400 of whom were Taliban, causing a major embarrassment for NATO. 

On 13 July 2008, a coordinated Taliban attack was launched on a remote NATO base at Wanat in Kunar province. On 19 August, French troops suffered their worst losses in Afghanistan in an ambush with 10 soldiers killed in action and 21 injured.  Later in the month, an airstrike targeted a Taliban commander in Herat province and killed 90 civilians.

On 11 September, militants killed two U.S. troops in the East. This brought the total number of U.S. losses to 113, more than in any prior year.  Several European countries set their own records, particularly the UK, who suffered 108 casualties. 

By the end of 2008, the Taliban apparently had severed remaining ties with al-Qaeda.  According to senior U.S. military intelligence officials, perhaps fewer than 100 members of al-Qaeda remained in Afghanistan. 

In response to the increased risk of sending supplies through Pakistan, work began on the establishment of a Northern Distribution Network (NDN) through Russia and Central Asian republics. Initial permission to move supplies through the region was given on January 20, 2009, after a visit to the region by General David Petraeus.  The first shipment along the NDN route left on 20 February from Riga, Latvia, then traveled 5,169 km (3,212 mi) to the Uzbek town of Termez on the Afghanistan border.[ In addition to Riga, other European ports included Poti, Georgia and Vladivostok, Russia.  By 2011, the NDN handled about 40% of Afghanistan-bound traffic, versus 30% through Pakistan. 

On 4 September 2009, during the Kunduz Province Campaign a devastating NATO air raid was conducted 7 kilometers southwest of Kunduz where Taliban fighters had hijacked civilian supply trucks, killing up to 179 people, including over 100 civilians. 

Renewed international commitment and troop surge

 
Development of ISAF troop strength

In March 2007, the U.S. during the Bush Administration deployed another more than 3,500 troops to Afghanistan to expand the fight against the Taliban. 

Admiral Mike MullenChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that while the situation in Afghanistan is "precarious and urgent," the 10,000 additional troops needed there would be unavailable "in any significant manner" unless withdrawals from Iraq are made. The priority was Iraq first, Afghanistan second.  In the first five months of 2008, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan increased by over 80% with a surge of 21,643 more troops, bringing the total from 26,607 in January to 48,250 in June.  In September 2008, President Bush announced the withdrawal of over 8,000 from Iraq and a further increase of up to 4,500 in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in June 2008, British prime minister Gordon Brown announced the number of British troops serving in Afghanistan would increase to 8,030—a rise of 230.  The same month, the UK lost its 100th serviceperson. 

In January 2009, about 3,000 U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division moved into the provinces of LogarWardak, and Kunar. Afghan Federal Guards fought alongside them. The troops were the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements originally ordered by President Bush and increased by President Obama.  In mid-February 2009, it was announced that 17,000 additional troops would be deployed in two brigades and support troops; the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade of about 3,500 and the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, a Stryker Brigade with about 4,000.  ISAF commander General David McKiernan had called for as many as 30,000 additional troops, effectively doubling the number of troops.  On 23 September, a classified assessment by General McChrystal included his conclusion that a successful counterinsurgency strategy would require 500,000 troops and five years. 

On 1 December 2009, Obama announced at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point that the U.S. would send 30,000 more troops.  Antiwar organizations in the U.S. responded quickly, and cities throughout the U.S. saw protests on 2 December. Many protesters compared the decision to deploy more troops in Afghanistan to the expansion of the Vietnam War under the Johnson administration.

U.S. action into Pakistan

An unnamed senior Pentagon official told the BBC that at some point between 12 July – 12 September 2008, President Bush issued a classified order authorizing raids against militants in Pakistan. Pakistan said it would not allow foreign forces onto its territory and that it would vigorously protect its sovereignty.  In September, the Pakistan military stated that it had issued orders to "open fire" on U.S. soldiers who crossed the border in pursuit of militant forces.

On 3 September 2008, commandos, believed to be U.S. Army Special Forces, landed by helicopter and attacked three houses close to a known enemy stronghold in Pakistan. The attack killed between seven and 20 people. Local residents claimed that most of the dead were civilians. Pakistan condemned the attack, calling the incursion "a gross violation of Pakistan's territory".  On 6 September, in an apparent reaction, Pakistan announced an indefinite disconnection of supply lines. 

On 25 September 2008, Pakistani troops fired on ISAF helicopters. This caused confusion and anger in the Pentagon, which asked for a full explanation into the incident and denied that U.S. helicopters were in Pakistani airspace. Chief Pakistani military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said that the helicopters had "crossed into our territory in Ghulam Khan area. They passed over our checkpost so our troops fired warning shots". A few days later a CIA drone crashed into Pakistan territory.  A further split occurred when U.S. troops apparently landed on Pakistani soil to carry out an operation against militants in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Pakistanis reacted angrily to the action, saying that 20 innocent villagers had been killed by U.S. troops.[254] However, despite tensions, the U.S. increased the use of remotely piloted drone aircraft in Pakistan's border regions, in particular the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan; as of early 2009, drone attacks were up 183% since 2006. 

In 2009, the Drone strikes in Pakistan increased substantially under the administration of United States President Barack Obama.  against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants. Some in the media have referred to the attacks as a "drone war". In August 2009, Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan TTP was killed in a drone strike, which was one of the early successes of the Obama administration

Re-election of Karzai

After Karzai's alleged win of 54 per cent, which would prevent a runoff, over 400,000 Karzai votes had to be disallowed after accusations of fraud. Some nations criticized the elections as "free but not fair". 

On 26 November 2009, Karzai made a public plea for direct negotiations with the Taliban leadership. Karzai said there is an "urgent need" for negotiations and made it clear that the Obama administration had opposed such talks. There was no formal U.S. response.

Operation Khanjar and Operation Panther's Claw

On 25 June U.S. officials announced the launch of Operation Khanjar ("strike of the sword").  About 4000 U.S. Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade  and 650 Afghan soldiers participated. Khanjar followed a British-led operation named Operation Panther's Claw in the same region.  Officials called it the Marines' largest operation since the 2004 invasion of Fallujah, Iraq. Operation Panther's Claw was aimed to secure various canal and river crossings to establish a long-term ISAF presence. 

Initially, Afghan and American soldiers moved into towns and villages along the Helmand River  to protect the civilian population. The main objective was to push into insurgent strongholds along the river. A secondary aim was to bring security to the Helmand Valley in time for presidential elections, set to take place on 20 August.

On 10 August McChrystal, newly appointed as U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said that the Taliban had gained the upper hand. In a continuation of the Taliban's usual strategy of summer offensives,  the militants aggressively spread their influence into north and west Afghanistan and stepped up their attack in an attempt to disrupt presidential polls.  Calling the Taliban a "very aggressive enemy", he added that the U.S. strategy was to stop their momentum and focus on protecting and safeguarding Afghan civilians, calling it "hard work". 

The Taliban's claim that the over 135 violent incidents disrupting elections was largely disputed. However, the media was asked to not report on any violent incidents.[274] Some estimates reported voter turn out as much less than the expected 70 percent. In southern Afghanistan where the Taliban held the most power, voter turnout was low and sporadic violence was directed at voters and security personnel. The chief observer of the European Union election mission, General Philippe Morillon, said the election was "generally fair" but "not free". 

Western election observers had difficulty accessing southern regions, where at least 9 Afghan civilians and 14 security forces were killed in attacks intended to intimidate voters. The Taliban released a video days after the elections, filming on the road between Kabul and Kandahar, stopping vehicles and asking to see their fingers. The video went showed ten men who had voted, listening to a Taliban militant. The Taliban pardoned the voters because of Ramadan.  The Taliban attacked towns with rockets and other indirect fire. Amid claims of widespread fraud, both top contenders, Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, claimed victory. Reports suggested that turnout was lower than in the prior election. 

In December, an attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman, used by the CIA to gather information and to coordinate drone attacks against Taliban leaders, killed at least six CIA officers.

2010–2013: Coalition offensives and strategic agreements

Taliban status and strategy

According to a 22 December briefing by Major General Michael T. Flynn, the top U.S. intelligence officer in Afghanistan, "The Taliban retains [the] required partnerships to sustain support, fuel legitimacy and bolster capacity."  The 23-page briefing states that "Security incidents [are] projected to be higher in 2010." Those incidents were already up by 300 percent since 2007 and by 60 percent since 2008, according to the briefing.  NATO intelligence at the time indicated that the Taliban had as many as 25,000 dedicated soldiers, almost as many as before 9/11 and more than in 2005.

Deployment of additional U.S. troops continued in early 2010, with 9,000 of the planned 30,000 in place before the end of March and another 18,000 expected by June, with the 101st Airborne Division as the main source and a Marine Expeditionary Force in the Helmand Province. U.S. troops in Afghanistan outnumbered those in Iraq for the first time since 2003.  The surge in troops supported a sixfold increase in Special Forces operations. The surge of American personnel that began in late 2009 ended by September 2012.  700 airstrikes occurred in September 2010 alone versus 257 in all of 2009. From July 2010 to October 2010, 300 Taliban commanders and 800 foot-soldiers were killed.  According to the Afghan government, approximately 900 Taliban were killed in operations conducted during 2010.  Due to increased use of IEDs by insurgents the number of injured coalition soldiers, mainly Americans, significantly increased.  Beginning in May 2010 NATO special forces began to concentrate on operations to capture or kill specific Taliban leaders. As of March 2011, the U.S. military claimed that the effort had resulted in the capture or killing of more than 900 low- to mid-level Taliban commanders. Overall, 2010 saw the most insurgent attacks of any year since the war began, peaking in September at more than 1,500. Insurgent operations increased "dramatically" in two-thirds of Afghan provinces.

The CIA created Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPT) staffed by Afghans at the war's beginning.  This force grew to over 3,000 by 2010 and was considered one of the "best Afghan fighting forces". Firebase Lilley was one of SAD's nerve centers.  These units were not only effective in operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan,[ bu  also expanded their operations into Pakistan. They were also important factors in both the "counterterrorism plus" and the full "counter-insurgency" options discussed by the Obama administration in the December 2010 review. 

Battle of Marjah and Kandahar

In early February, Coalition and Afghan forces began highly visible plans for an offensive, codenamed Operation Moshtarak, on the Taliban stronghold near the village of Marjah. It began on 13 February and, according to U.S. and Afghan officials, was the first operation where Afghan forces led the coalition. Led by the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (US), the offensive involved 15,000 US, British, Canadian, Estonian, Danish, French, and Afghan troops. It was the biggest joint operation since the 2001 invasion that ousted the Taliban.  The troops were fighting over an area of less than 260 km2 (100 sq mi), with a population of 80,000.

The Battle of Kandahar (2011) was part of an offensive that followed a 30 April announcement that the Taliban would launch their Spring offensive.  On 7 May the Taliban launched a major offensive on government buildings in Kandahar. The Taliban said their goal was to take control of the city. At least eight locations were attacked: the governor's compound, the mayor's office, the NDS headquarters, three police stations and two high schools. The battle continued onto a second day. The BBC's Bilal Sarwary called it "the worst attack in Kandahar province since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, and a embarrassment for the Western-backed Afghan government." 

Peace negotiations

By 2009 there was broad agreement in Afghanistan that the war should end, but how it should happen was a major issue for the candidates of the 2009 Afghan presidential election  that re-elected Karzai. In a televised speech after being elected, Karzai called on "our Taliban brothers to come home and embrace their land" and laid plans to launch a loya jirga. Efforts were undermined by the Obama administration's increase of American troops in the country. Karzai reiterated at a London conference in January 2010 that he wanted to reach out to the Taliban to lay down arms. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautiously supported the proposal.  The "Peace Jirga" was held in Kabul, attended by 1,600 delegates, in June 2010. However the Taliban and the Hezb-i Islami Gulbuddin, who were both invited by Karzai as a gesture of goodwill did not attend the conference.

The Taliban's co-founder and then-second-in-command, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was one of the leading Taliban members who favored talks with the US and Afghan governments. Karzai's administration reportedly held talks with Baradar in February 2010; however, later that month, Baradar was captured in a joint US-Pakistani raid in the city of Karachi in Pakistan. The arrest infuriated Karzai and invoked suspicions that he was seized because the Pakistani intelligence community was opposed to Afghan peace talks. Karzai started peace talks with Haqqani network groups in March 2010. 

A mindset change and strategy occurred within the Obama administration in 2010 to allow possible political negotiations to solve the war.  The Taliban themselves had refused to speak to the Afghan government, portraying them as an American "puppet". Sporadic efforts for peace talks between the US and the Taliban occurred afterward, and it was reported in October 2010 that Taliban leadership commanders (the "Quetta Shura") had left their haven in Pakistan and been safely escorted to Kabul by NATO aircraft for talks, with the assurance that NATO staff would not apprehend them.

 After the talks concluded, it emerged that the leader of this delegation, who claimed to be Akhtar Mansour, the second-in-command of the Taliban, was actually an imposter who had duped NATO officials. 

Karzai confirmed in June 2011 that secret talks were taking place between the US and the Taliban,  but these collapsed by August 2011.  Further attempts to resume talks were canceled in March 2012, and June 2013 following a dispute between the Afghan government and the Taliban regarding the latter's opening of a political office in Qatar. President Karzai accused the Taliban of portraying themselves as a government in exile.  In July 2015, Pakistan hosted the first official peace talks between Taliban representatives and the Afghan government. U.S and China attended the talks brokered by Pakistan in Murree as two observers.  In January 2016, Pakistan hosted a round of four-way talks with Afghan, Chinese and American officials, but the Taliban did not attend.  The Taliban did hold informal talks with the Afghan government in 2016. 

Controversies

On 25 July 2010, the release of 91,731 classified documents from the WikiLeaks organization was made public. The documents cover U.S. military incident and intelligence reports from January 2004 to December 2009. Some of these documents included sanitized, and "covered up", accounts of civilian casualties caused by Coalition Forces. The reports included many references to other incidents involving civilian casualties like the Kunduz airstrike and Nangar Khel incident.  The leaked documents also contain reports of Pakistan collusion with the Taliban. According to Der Spiegel, "the documents clearly show that the Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (usually known as the ISI) is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan." 

Beginning in January 2012, incidents involving U.S. troops occurred that were described by The Sydney Morning Herald as "a series of damaging incidents and disclosures involving U.S. troops in Afghanistan."  These incidents created fractures in the partnership between Afghanistan and ISAF, raised the question whether discipline within U.S. troops was breaking down, undermined "the image of foreign forces in a country where there is already deep resentment owing to civilian deaths and a perception among many Afghans that U.S. troops lack respect for Afghan culture and people" and strained the relations between Afghanistan and the United States.  Besides an incident involving U.S. troops who posed with body parts of dead insurgents and a video apparently showing a U.S. helicopter crew singing "bye-bye Miss American Pie" before blasting a group of Afghan men with a Hellfire missile these "high-profile U.S. military incidents in Afghanistan"  also included the 2012 Afghanistan Quran burning protests and the Panjwai shooting spree.

 

Pakistan-U.S. tension

Tensions between Pakistan and the U.S. were heightened in late September after several Pakistan Frontier Corps soldiers were killed and wounded. The troops were attacked by a U.S. piloted aircraft that was pursuing Taliban forces near the Afghan-Pakistan border, but for unknown reasons opened fire on two Pakistan border posts. In retaliation for the strike, Pakistan closed the Torkham ground border crossing to NATO supply convoys for an unspecified period. This incident followed the release of a video allegedly showing uniformed Pakistan soldiers executing unarmed civilians.  After the Torkham border closing, Pakistani Taliban attacked NATO convoys, killing several drivers and destroying around 100 tankers. 

After Neptune Spear, ISAF forces "accidentally" attacked Pakistan's armed forces on 26 November, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan blocked NATO supply lines and ordered Americans to leave Shamsi Airfield. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the attack was 'tragic' and 'unintended'. "This (regret) is not good enough. We strongly condemn the attacks and reserve the right to take action," said DG ISPR Major General Athar Abbas. "This could have serious consequences in the level and extent of our cooperation." 

Death of Osama bin Laden

On 2 May U.S. officials announced that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in Operation Neptune Spear, conducted by the U.S. Navy SEALs, in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  Pakistan came under intense international scrutiny after the raid. The Pakistani government denied that it had sheltered bin Laden, and said it had shared information with the CIA and other intelligence agencies about the compound since 2009. 

International drawdown and strategic agreements

On 22 June President Obama announced that 10,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2011 and an additional 23,000 troops would return by the summer of 2012. After the withdrawal of 10,000 U.S. troops, only 80,000 remained.  In July 2011 Canada withdrew its combat troops, transitioning to a training role. Following suit, other NATO countries announced troop reductions.

Taliban attacks continued at the same rate as they did in 2011, around 28,000 attacks.

In January 2012, the National Front of Afghanistan (NFA) raised concerns about the possibility of a secret deal between the U.S., Pakistan and the Taliban during a widely publicized meeting in Berlin. U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert wrote, "These leaders who fought with embedded Special Forces to initially defeat the Taliban represent over 60-percent of the Afghan people, yet are being entirely disregarded by the Obama and Karzai Administrations in negotiations."[

Karzai visited the U.S. in January 2012. At the time the U.S. Government stated its openness to withdrawing all of its troops by the end of 2014.  On 11 January 2012 Karzai and Obama agreed to transfer combat operations from NATO to Afghan forces by spring 2013 rather than summer 2013.  "What's going to happen this spring is that Afghans will be in the lead throughout the country", Obama said. "They [ISAF forces] will still be fighting alongside Afghan troops...we will be in a training, assisting, advising role."  He also stated the reason of the withdrawals that "We achieved our central goal, or have come very close...which is to de-capacitate al-Qaeda, to dismantle them, to make sure that they can't attack us again."  He added that any U.S. mission beyond 2014 would focus solely on counterterrorism operations and training. 

On 2 May 2012, Presidents Karzai and Obama signed a strategic partnership agreement between the two countries, after the U.S. president had arrived unannounced in Kabul  The U.S.–Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement  provides the long-term framework for the two countries' relationship after the drawdown of U.S. forces. On 7 July, as part of the agreement, the U.S. designated Afghanistan a major non-NATO ally after Karzai and Clinton met in Kabul. Both leaders agreed that the United States would transfer Afghan prisoners and prisons to the Afghan government and withdraw troops from Afghan villages in spring 2013.

Security transfer

In 2012 the leaders of NATO-member countries endorsed an exit strategy during the NATO Summit. ISAF Forces would transfer command of all combat missions to Afghan forces by the middle of 2013,  while shifting from combat to advising, training and assisting Afghan security forces. Most of the 130,000 ISAF troops would depart by the end of December 2014.  A new NATO mission would then assume the support role. 

On 18 June 2013 the transfer of security responsibilities from NATO to Afghan forces was completed.  The last step was to transfer control of 95 remaining districts. Karzai said, "When people see security has been transferred to Afghans, they support the army and police more than before." NATO leader Rasmussen said that Afghan forces were completing a five-stage transition process that began in March 2011. "They are doing so with remarkable resolve," he said. "Ten years ago, there were no Afghan national security forces...now you have 350,000 Afghan troops and police."  ISAF remained slated to end its mission by the end of 2014. Some 100,000 ISAF forces remained in the country.

2014–2017: Withdrawal and increase of insurgency

After 2013, the Taliban escalated suicide bombings.[citation needed] An example of this is a bombing of a Lebanese restaurant in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul on 18 February 2014. Among the dead in this attack were UN staff and the owner of a restaurant, who died protecting his business; 21 people altogether were killed. Meanwhile, the withdrawal continued, with 200 more U.S. troops going home. The UK halved their force and were slowing withdrawal with all but two bases being closed down. On 20 March 2014, more than four weeks after a bomb in a military bus by the Taliban rocked the city once again, a raid on the Serena Hotel's restaurant in Kabul by the Taliban resulted in the deaths of nine people, including the four perpetrators. The attack came just nine days after Swedish radio journalist Nils Horner was shot dead by the Taliban.

However, as the U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, they were replaced by private security companies hired by the United States government and the United Nations. Many of these private security companies (also termed military contractors) consisted of ex U.S. Army, U.S. Marine, British, French and Italian defense personnel who had left the defense after a few years of active service. Their past relations with the defense helped establish their credentials, simultaneously allowing the U.S. and British to continue to be involved in ground actions without the requirement to station their own forces. 

Two longterm security pacts, the Bilaterial Security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States of America and the NATO Status of Forces Agreement between NATO and Afghanistan, were signed on 30 September 2014. Both pacts lay out the framework for the foreign troop involvement in Afghanistan after the year 2014. 

After 13 years Britain and the United States officially ended their combat operation in Afghanistan on 26 October 2014. On that day Britain handed over its last base in Afghanistan, Camp Bastion, while the United States handed over its last base, Camp Leatherneck, to Afghan forces.[358] Around 500 UK troops remained in "non-combat" roles.  On 28 December 2014 NATO officially ended combat operations in a ceremony held in Kabul. Continued operations by United States forces within Afghanistan will continue under the name Operation Freedom's Sentinel; this was joined by a new NATO mission under the name of Operation Resolute Support. 

 Operation Resolute Support will involve 28 NATO nations, 14 partner nations, 11,000 American troops, and 850 German troops. 

The Taliban began a resurgence due to several factors. At the end of 2014, the US and NATO combat mission ended and the withdrawal of most foreign forces from Afghanistan reduced the risk the Taliban faced of being bombed and raided. In June 2014, the Pakistani military's Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched in the North Waziristan tribal area in June 2014, dislodged thousands of mainly Uzbek, Arab and Pakistani militants, who flooded into Afghanistan and swelled the Taliban's ranks. The group was further emboldened by the comparative lack of interest from the international community and the diversion of its attention to crisis in other parts of the world, such as SyriaIraq or Ukraine. Afghan security forces also lack certain capabilities and equipment, especially air power and reconnaissance. The political infighting in the central government in Kabul and the apparent weakness in governance at different levels are also exploited by the Taliban.  Throughout 2015, the US launched about one thousand bombs and missiles at targets in Afghanistan, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. In May 2015, Russia has closed a key military transport corridor which allowed NATO to deliver military supplies to Afghanistan through the Russian territory. 

In January 2015, United States Forces began conducting drone strikes in Afghanistan under the direction of the administration of the United States President Barack Obama against Taliban militants, Pakistani Taliban (TTP) militants, ISIL branch in Afghanistan militants and Al-Qaeda militants. 

On 25 March 2015, the Afghan National Army killed 29 insurgents and injured 21 others in a series of operations in the DaikundiGhazni, and Parwan provinces.

 Suicide bombers attacked Hetal Hotel in May. Norwegian Marinejegerkommandoen special forces were central in saving 37 Australian hostages while maintaining direct contact with the Australian ambassador in Kabul.  On 22 June 2015, the Taliban detonated a car bomb outside the National Assembly in Kabul, and Taliban fighters attacked the building with assault rifles and RPGs. 

In early April 2016, it was reported that US and Afghan forces had killed 1,979 suspected militants, 736 others wounded and 965 detained between April 2015 and March 2016, ISIS militants have also been trying to flee into Ghazni and Nuristan province, whilst a rise in defections from the group to the government and the Taliban. On 12 April 2016, the Taliban announced that they would launch an offensive called Operation Omari. 

The Taliban executed at least 10 people, some of whom were reportedly off-duty soldiers from the Afghan army on 31 May 2016 after kidnapping up to 220 people from buses and cars at a checkpoint on the Kunduz-Takhar highway. The majority of the passengers were released after they were interrogated by the Taliban insurgents, however at least 18 individuals still remained hostage.

 On 7 June 2016, in Ghazni province 12 members of Afghan security forces were killed, they include seven policemen, three soldiers, and two officials from the National Directorate of Security, the next day in the northern province of Kunduz Taliban fighters stopped a bus on a highway near the provincial capital and abducted 40 passengers—the second such abduction in the province in less than two weeks. 

On 30 June 2016, two suicide bombers attacked an Afghan police convoy carrying recently graduated cadets on the western outskirts of the capital Kabul, killing up to 40 cadets, while injuring 40 more. The incident came 10 days after an attack on a bus carrying Nepali security guards working for the Canadian embassy in Kabul that killed 14 people. 

As of July 2016, Time magazine estimated that at least 20% of Afghanistan was under Taliban control with southernmost Helmand Province as major stronghold, while General Nicholson stated that Afghan official armed forces' casualties had risen 20 percent compared to 2015.

On 22 September 2016, the Afghan government signed a draft peace deal with Hezb-i-Islami. According to the draft agreement, Hezb-i-Islami agreed to cease hostilities, cut ties to extremist groups and respect the Afghan Constitution, in exchange for government recognition of the group and support for the removal of United Nations and American sanctions against Hekmatyar, who was also promised an honorary post in the government. The agreement was formalized on 29 September by both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Hekmatyar who appeared via a video link in the presidential palace, signing the agreement.

In early January 2017, the Marine Corps Times reported that Afghan forces seek to rebuild, following an exhausting 2016 fighting season; 33 districts, which are spread across 16 Afghan provinces, are under insurgent control whilst 258 are under government control and nearly 120 districts remain "contested".  Aaccording to an inspector general, the Afghan army comprises about 169,000 soldiers, but in 2016 they suffered a 33 percent attrition rate—a 7 percent increase from 2015.  On 9 February 2017, General John Nicholson told Congress that NATO and allied forces in Afghanistan are facing a "stalemate" and that he needed a few thousand additional troops to more effectively train and advise Afghan soldiers. He also asserted that Russia was trying to "legitimize" the Taliban by creating the "false narrative" that the militant organization has been fighting the Islamic State and that Afghan forces have not, he asserted Russia's goal, was "to undermine the United States and NATO" in Afghanistan. However, he said that the area in which Islamic State fighters operate in Afghanistan had been greatly reduced. 

The Military Times reported that on 26 February 2017, a USAF airstrike that killed the Taliban leadership commander Mullah Abdul Salam in Kunduz province in a joint operation with Afghan security forces. The airstrike marked a renewed strategy by U.S. forces under the Trump administration to remove the Taliban leadership/commanders from the battlefield 

On 21 April 2017, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan fighters along with Afghan security forces allied to them stormed 209th Corps military base near Mazar-e-Sharif, killing over 140 Afghan soldiers.

On 28 April 2017, the Washington Post reported that the Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive dubbed "Operation Mansouri."  

On 20 May, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan fully secured Waghaz District in the province of Ghazni, while at the same time stormed Dih Yak district center and blew up Governor of Ghazni compound in Ghazni city. Another major assault took place on 22 May in Shah Wali Kot district, Northern Kandahar province, during which Taliban managed to capture large military base, while inflicting heavy casualties to the Afghan army, reportedly killing 35 and capturing four soldiers as well as three Armoured Personnel Carriers. During the same day they had overran a border outpost in southern Shorabak district, killing 15 soldiers, in addition to another outpost in district of Khakrez, killing eight more. The next day rebels assaulted another military base in Shah Wali Kot and an outpost, killing four soldiers and injuring four more, while pro-government forces abandoned a village in northern district of Maruf. On 24 May, the Taliban assaulted a base in Maiwand district, killing 13 soldiers.  

Taliban launched another attack in province of Kandahar on 26 May, killing at least 18 soldiers, injuring 16 more and capturing four, according to security officials, while the group itself claimed to have killed 35 soldiers and capturing seven more, while also seizing seven Armoured Personnel Carriers and an array of weapons On 27 May, 13 members of Khost Provincial Force, a CIA funded and equipped paramilitary group, known for torture and extrajudicial killings, were killed after a Taliban car bomb blew up in Khost city. 

On 31 May 2017, the German embassy in Kabul was attacked by a suicide truck, located in the heavily fortified area of Kabul, killing over 90 and injuring over 350.  No one claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomb went off at about 08:25 local time (03:55 GMT) during rush hour.  The fortified area is considered the safest area of Kabul, with 3 m (10 ft) tall blast walls.  India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said its embassy staff were safe.

The Washington Post reported that on 20 November 2017, General John Nicholson announced that US aircraft were targeting drug production facilities in Afghanistan under a new strategy aimed at cutting off Taliban funding, saying that the Taliban was "becoming a criminal organization" that was earning about $200 million a year from drug-related activities. President Ashraf Ghani strongly endorsed the new campaign of U.S. and Afghan airstrikes against the Taliban-run narcotic centers; the following day, a spokesman for the Helmand governor's office said that the past week's air operations involving coalition forces and Afghan air force planes conducted "direct strikes on Taliban hideouts and narcotics centers" (eight strikes by the coalition and two by the Afghan Air Force), killing more than 40 Taliban fighters and that a "main processing center of narcotics was destroyed" along with about 2,200 pounds of drugs.  CNN reported that the campaign is known as Operation Jagged Knife. 

Battle of Kunduz

Heavy fighting has occurred in the Kunduz province, which was the site of clashes from 2009 onwards. In May 2015, flights into the Northern city of Kunduz were suspended due to weeks of clashes between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban outside the city. The intensifying conflict in the Northern Char Dara District within the Kunduz province led the Afghan government to enlist local militia fighters to bolster opposition to the Taliban insurgency.  In June, the Taliban intensified attacks around the Northern city of Kunduz as part of a major offensive in an attempt to capture the city.  Tens of thousands of inhabitants have been displaced internally in Afghanistan by the fighting. The government recaptured the Char Dara district after roughly a month of fighting.

In late September, Taliban forces launched an attack on Kunduz, seizing several outlying villages and entering the city. The Taliban stormed the regional hospital and clashed with security forces at the nearby university. The fighting saw the Taliban attack from four different districts: Char Dara to the West, Aliabad to the Southwest, Khanabad to the East and Imam Saheb to the North.

 The Taliban took the Zakhel and Ali Khel villages on the highway leading south, which connects the city to Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif through Aliabad district, and reportedly made their largest gains in the Southwest of Kunduz, where some local communities had picked up weapons and supported the Taliban. Taliban fighters had allegedly blocked the route to the Airport to prevent civilians fleeing the city.  One witness reported that the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security was set on fire.  Kunduz was recaptured by Afghan and American forces on 14 October 2015.

Afghan forces have been battling the Taliban in northeastern Kunduz as part of the Afghan forces' own spring offensive in 2016.  On 14 April, hundreds of Taliban and other insurgents attempted to retake Kunduz, however Afghan forces repelled the assault, according to Kunduz provincial police chief, allegedly killing 40 and injuring between 8 and 60 Taliban, whilst Afghan forces suffered 4 killed and 6 wounded. U.S. surveillance aircraft are supporting Afghan forces as they try to push the Taliban back, there has also been fighting in at least 6 other districts, where a further 28 Taliban fighters were killed with another 28 wounded.  On 18 July 2016, at least 100 Taliban fighters attacked Qalai Zal district, Kunduz Province, in an attempt to take the district, but Afghan forces pushed them back, 8 Taliban – including a commander – were killed, while 1 Afghan security force member was killed and three others wounded.

Taliban negotiations and in-fighting

Chinese officials have declared that Afghan stability affects separatist movements in the region, including in China's West  as well as the security of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.  China and Pakistan have been involved in negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.The Quadrilateral Coordination Group-consisting of Afghan, American, Chinese and Pakistani officials have been inviting the Taliban to discuss peace talks since January 2016, but currently they are presumably preoccupied with fighting each other and the government forces. A meeting between representatives of both sides were expected to take place in early March but the Taliban stated they would not participate. 

The bombing of the Kabul parliament has highlighted differences within the Taliban in their approach to peace talks. In April 2016, President Ashraf Ghani "pulled the plug" on the Afghan governments failing effort to start peace talks with the Taliban. Additionally, due to the integration of Haqqani Networks into the Taliban leadership, it would become harder for peace talks to take place. Although leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, said a peace agreement was possible if the government in Kabul renounced its foreign allies

On 11 November 2015, it was reported that infighting had broken out between different Taliban factions in Zabul Province. Fighters loyal to the new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor fought a Pro-ISIL splinter faction led by Mullah Mansoor Dadullah. Even though Dadullah's faction enjoyed the support of foreign ISIL fighters, including Uzbeks and Chechens, it was reported that Mansoor's Taliban loyalists had the upper hand. According to Ghulam Jilani Farahi, provincial director of security in Zabul, more than 100 militants from both sides were killed since the fighting broke out.[429] The infighting has continued into 2016; on 10 March 2016, officials said that the Taliban clashed with the Taliban splinter group (led by Muhammad Rasul) in the Shindand district of Herat with up to 100 militants killed; the infighting has also stifled peace talks.

As a result of the infighting, which has resulted in Mansour being consumed with a campaign to quell dissent against his leadership; Sirajuddin Haqqani, chief of the Haqqani Network was selected to become the deputy leader of the Taliban in the summer of 2015, during a leadership struggle within the Taliban. Sirajuddin and other Haqqani leaders increasingly run the day-to-day military operations for the Taliban, in particular; refining urban terrorist attacks and cultivating a sophisticated international fund-raising network, they also appointed Taliban governors and began uniting the Taliban. As a result, the Haqqani Network is now closely integrated with the Taliban at a leadership level, and is growing in influence within the insurgency, whereas the network was largely autonomous before, and there are concerns that the fighting is going to be deadlier. Tensions with the Pakistani military have also been raised because American and Afghan officials accuse them of sheltering the Haqqanis as a proxy group. 

Clashes in Helmand

In 2015 the Taliban began an offensive in Helmand Province, taking over parts of the Province. By June 2015, they had seized control of Dishu and Baghran killing 5,588 Afghan government security forces (3,720 of them were police officers).  By the end of July, the Taliban had overrun Nawzad District  and on 26 August, the Taliban took control of Musa Qala.

In October 2015, Taliban forces had attempted to take Lashkar Gah; the capital of Helmand province, the Afghan's 215th Corps and special operations forces launched a counteroffensive against the Taliban in November,  Whilst the assault was repelled, Taliban forces remained dug into the city's suburbs as of December 2015. December 2015 saw a renewed Taliban offensive in Helmand focused on the town of Sangin. The Sangin district fell to the Taliban on 21 December after fierce clashes that killed more than 90 soldiers in two days.  It was reported that 30 members of the SAS alongside 60 US special forces operators joined the Afghan Army in the Battle to retake parts of Sangin from Taliban insurgents,  in addition, about 300 U.S. troops and a small number of British remained in Helmand to advise Afghan commanders at the corps level. 

 Senior American commanders said that the Afghan troops in the province have lacked effective leaders as well as the necessary weapons and ammunition to hold off persistent Taliban attacks. Some Afghan soldiers in Helmand have been fighting in tough conditions for years without a break to see their family, leading to poor morale and high desertion rates.

In early February 2016, Taliban insurgents renewed their assault on Sangin, after previously being repulsed in December 2015, launching a string of ferocious attacks on Afghan government forces earlier in the month. As a result, the United States decided to send troops from the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment10th Mountain Division, in order to prop up the Afghan 215th Corps in Helmand province, particularly around Sangin, joining US special operations forces already in the area.  On 14 March 2016, Khanneshin District in Helmand Province fell to the Taliban; and district by district, Afghan troops were retreating back to urban centers in Helmand.  In early April 2016, 600 Afghan troops launched a major offensive to retake Taliban-occupied areas of Sangin and the area around it,  an Afghan army offensive to retake the town of Khanisheen was repelled by the Taliban, desertions from the army in the area are rife.

Despite US airstrikes, militants besieged Lashkar Gah, reportedly controlling all roads leading to the city and areas a few kilometres away. The US stepped up airstrikes in support of Afghan ground forces. Afghan forces in Lashkar Gah were reported as "exhausted" whilst police checkpoints around the capital were falling one by one; whilst the Taliban sent a new elite commando force into Helmand called "Sara Khitta" in Pashto. Afghan security forces beat back attacks by Taliban fighters encroaching on Chah-e-Anjir, just 10 km from Lashkar Gah; Afghan special forces backed by U.S. airstrikes battled increasingly well-armed and disciplined Taliban militants. An Afghan special forces commander said "The Taliban have heavily armed, uniformed units that are equipped with night vision and modern weapons." On 22 August 2016, the US announced that 100 U.S. troops were sent to Lashkar Gah to help prevent the Taliban from overrunning it, in what Brigadier General Charles Cleveland called a "temporary effort" to advise the Afghan police.

Despite US airstrikes, militants besieged Lashkar Gah, reportedly controlling all roads leading to the city and areas a few kilometres away. The US stepped up airstrikes in support of Afghan ground forces. Afghan forces in Lashkar Gah were reported as "exhausted" whilst police checkpoints around the capital were falling one by one; whilst the Taliban sent a new elite commando force into Helmand called "Sara Khitta" in Pashto. Afghan security forces beat back attacks by Taliban fighters encroaching on Chah-e-Anjir, just 10 km from Lashkar Gah; Afghan special forces backed by U.S. airstrikes battled increasingly well-armed and disciplined Taliban militants. An Afghan special forces commander said "The Taliban have heavily armed, uniformed units that are equipped with night vision and modern weapons."  On 22 August 2016, the US announced that 100 U.S. troops were sent to Lashkar Gah to help prevent the Taliban from overrunning it, in what Brigadier General Charles Cleveland called a "temporary effort" to advise the Afghan police.

On 23 July 2016, Afghan and U.S. forces began an offensive to clear Nangarhar province of Islamic State militants hours after the Kabul bombing, the operation was dubbed "Wrath of the Storm" involving both Afghan regular army and special forces and is the Afghan army's first major strategic offensive of the summer. The operation was backed by U.S. special forces troops and airstrikes; five US special forces troops were wounded by small arms fire or shrapnel over 24 and 25 July whilst clearing areas of southern Nangarhar with Afghan special operations troops, it appeared to be the first reported instance of U.S. troops being wounded in fighting ISIL in Afghanistan. On 26 July, in overnight raid in Kot district during the operation, supported by foreign air support, one of the most important leaders of IS in the region, Saad Emarati, one of the founders of the ISIL-KP, was killed along with 120 other suspected militants killed; by 30 July killed hundreds of IS militants in eastern Afghanistan. Afghan troops pushed into Kot district after a heavy air and artillery bombardment that forced Daesh to flee into nearby mountain areas, Afghan forces met little resistance, finding an already destroyed training camp, by 30 July, the provincial governor said that 78 Daesh fighters had been killed in the operation. The operation reclaimed large and significant parts of eastern Afghanistan, forcing Daesh militants back into the mountains of southern Nangarhar. The estimated size of the ISIL-KP in January 2016 was around 3,000, but by July 2016 the number had been reduced to closely 1,000 to 1,500, with 70% of its fighters come from the TTP.

On 13 April 2017, the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb, known as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) Mother of All Bombs, at 34.073336, 70.631215 (latitude and longitude coordinates) near Momand village upon a Nangahar's Achin District village in eastern Afghanistan to destroy tunnel complexes used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP or ISIS-K). The Guardian reported that following the strike, US and Afghan forces conducted clearing operations and airstrikes in the area and assessed the damage.

The Army Times reported that in early March 2017, American and Afghan forces launched Operation Hamza to "flush" ISIS-K from its stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, engaging in regular ground battles. Stars and Stripes reported that General Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry, said that for four weeks before 13 April Nangarhar airstrike (which was part of the operation), Afghan special forces unsuccessfully attempted to penetrate the area because of the difficult terrain and improvised explosive device (IEDs) planted by ISIS-KP militants.  In April 2017, the Washington Post reported that Captain Bill Salvin, a spokesman for NATO's mission to Afghanistan, said that Afghan and international forces had reduced ISIS-K controlled territory in Afghanistan by two-thirds and had killed around half their fighters in the previous two years. Since the beginning of 2017, 460 airstrikes against terrorists (with drone strikes alone killing more than 200 IS militants); he added that the affiliate has an estimated 600-800 fighters in two eastern Afghan provinces.

Donald Trump's Afghan policy

US President Donald Trump twice accused Pakistan of harboring the Taliban and of inaction against terrorists, first in August 2017 then again in January 2018. On 21 August 2017, US President Donald Trump stated that he would expand the American presence in Afghanistan, without giving details on how or when.  Trump did not formulate any timelines, troop numbers or specific purposes to be met; only that a US withdrawal was not an option now as it would play into the hands of terrorists and that publicizing deadlines and exact plans would only help those groups prepare.  Trump also said that 20 US designated terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to The Washington Post, this contradicts the official US Government list which only has 13 such organizations. 

The Guardian reported that Afghan government officials praised the new strategy, not only for increasing troop numbers and removing with strict timelines, but for increasing pressure on Pakistan-which they see as a main sponsor of the insurgency. In a televised address, President Trump said a new approach to Pakistan would be a "pillar" of the new strategy, adding that "we can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond;" Najibullah Azad, a spokesman for the Afghan president, said that "the strategy is made in accordance with realities on the ground", and that "this is the first time the US government is coming with a very clear-cut message to Pakistan to either stop what you're doing or face the negative consequences." Other statements by Afghan officials such as Davood Moradian, the director general of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies in Kabul, said that "the new strategy is premised on 'peace through strength', in contrast to Obama's failed approach, which was essentially 'peace through appeasement'." In response, Pakistani security officials accused Trump of shifting blame for its failures in the war against the Taliban and other armed groups in Afghanistan and of endangering the already fraught bilateral relations between the two countries. 

On 15 September 2017, the New York Times reported that the CIA was seeking authority to conduct its own drone strikes in Afghanistan and other war zones, according to current and former intelligence and military officials, and that the change in authority was being considered by the White House as part of the new strategy despite concerns by the Pentagon. On 19 September 2017, the Trump Administration deployed another 3,000 US troops to Afghanistan. They would add to the approximately 11,000 US troops already serving in Afghanistan, bringing the total to at least 14,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan.  On 4 October 2017, Fox News reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved a change in rules of engagement as part of the new strategy so that there is no longer a requirement for US troops to be in contact with enemy forces in Afghanistan before opening fire.

2018–2021: Peace overtures, U.S. withdrawal and final Taliban campaign

In January 2018, the BBC reported that the Taliban are openly active in 70% of the country (being in full control of 14 districts and have an active and open physical presence in a further 263) and that Islamic State is more active in the country than ever before. Following attacks by the Taliban and Islamic State that killed scores of civilians, President Trump and Afghan officials decided to rule out any talks with the Taliban.  However, on February 27, 2018, following an increase in violence, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposed unconditional peace talks with the Taliban, offering them recognition as a legal political party and the release of the Taliban prisoners. The offer was the most favorable to the Taliban since the war started. It was preceded by months of national consensus building, which found that Afghans overwhelmingly supported a negotiated end to the war. Two days earlier, the Taliban had called for talks with the US, saying "It must now be established by America and her allies that the Afghan issue cannot be solved militarily. America must henceforth focus on a peaceful strategy for Afghanistan instead of war."  On March 27, 2018, a conference of 20 countries in TashkentUzbekistan, backed the Afghan government's peace offer.[493] The Taliban did not publicly respond to Ghani's offer.[citation needed]

In July 2018 the Taliban carried out the Darzab offensive and captured Darzab District following the surrender of ISIL-K to the Afghan Government. In August the Taliban launched a series of offensives, the largest being the Ghazni offensive. During the Ghazni offensive, the Taliban seized Ghazni, Afghanistan's sixth-largest city for several days but eventually retreated. The Taliban were successful in killing hundreds of Afghan soldiers and police and captured several government bases and districts. Following the offensives Erik Prince, the private military contractor and former head of Blackwater, advocated additional privatization of the war.  However, the then-US Defense Secretary James Mattis rebuked the idea, saying, “When Americans put their nation's credibility on the line, privatizing it is probably not a wise idea.” 

On 25 January 2019, Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani said that more than 45,000 members of the Afghan security forces had been killed since he became president in 2014. He also said that there had been fewer than 72 international casualties during the same period. A January 2019 report by the US government estimated that 53.8% of Afghanistan's districts were controlled or influenced by the government, with 33.9% contested and 12.3% under insurgent control or influence.

On 30 April 2019, Afghan government forces undertook clearing operations directed against both ISIS-K and the Taliban in eastern Nangarhar Province, after the two groups fought for over a week over a group of villages in an area of illegal talc mining. The National Directorate of Security claimed 22 ISIS-K fighters were killed and two weapons caches destroyed, while the Taliban claimed US-backed Afghan forces killed seven civilians; a provincial official said over 9,000 families had been displaced by the fighting. On 28 July 2019, President Ashraf Ghani's running mate Amrullah Saleh's office was attacked by a suicide bomber and a few militants. At least 20 people were killed and 50 injured, with Saleh also amongst the injured ones. During the six-hour-long operation, more than 150 civilians were rescued and three militants were killed.

By August, the Taliban controlled more territory than at any point since 2001. The Washington Post reported that the US was close to reaching a peace deal with the Taliban and was preparing to withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan. The same month, however, it was later confirmed that some Taliban leaders, including Taliban emir Hibatullah Akhunzada's brother Hafiz Ahmadullah and some other relatives, were killed in a bomb blast at the Khair Ul Madarais mosque, which was located in the Quetta suburb of Kuchlak and had long served as the main meeting place of members of the Taliban. In September, the US canceled the negotiations. 

On 17 September 2019, a suicide bomber attacked the campaign rally of President Ashraf Ghani, killing 26 people and wounding 42. Less than an hour later, the Taliban carried out another suicide bomb attack near the US Embassy and the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing 22 people and wounded around 38.

National peace movements and first ceasefire

Following Ghani's offer of unconditional peace talks with the Taliban, a growing peace movement arose in Afghanistan during 2018, particularly following a peace march by the People's Peace Movement,  which the Afghan media dubbed the "Helmand Peace Convoy". he peace march was a response to a car bomb on March 23 in Lashkar Gah that killed 14 people. The marchers walked several hundred miles from Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, through Taliban-held territory,  to Kabul. There they met Ghani and held sit-in protests outside the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and nearby embassies. Their efforts inspired further movements in other parts of Afghanistan. 

Following the march, Ghani and the Taliban agreed a mutual, unprecedented, ceasefire during the Eid al-Fitr celebrations in June 2018. During the Eid ceasefire, Taliban members flocked into Kabul where they met and communicated with locals and state security forces. Creating a mood of hope and fear, many civilians welcomed the Taliban and spoke about peace, including some women.

 Although civilians called for the ceasefire to be made permanent, the Taliban rejected an extension and resumed fighting after the ceasefire ended on June 18, while the Afghan government's ceasefire ended a week later.

Between April 29 and May 3, 2019, the Afghan government hosted a four-day loya jirga at Kabul's Bagh-e Bala Palace attended by 3,200 representatives to discuss peace talks. The Taliban were invited but did not attend.

U.S.-Taliban talks and agreement

American officials secretly met members of the Taliban's political commission in Qatar in July 2018.  In September 2018, Trump appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as special adviser on Afghanistan in the US State Department, with the stated goal of facilitating an intra-Afghan political peace process. Khalilzad led further talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar in October 2018. Russia hosted a separate peace talk in November 2018 between the Taliban and officials from Afghanistan's High Peace Council. The talks in Qatar resumed in December 2018, though the Taliban refused to allow the Afghan government to be invited,  considering them a puppet government of the US.  The Taliban spoke with Afghans including former President Hamid Karzai at a hotel in Moscow in February 2019, but again these talks did not include the Afghan government.

On 25 February 2019, peace talks began between the Taliban and the United States in Qatar, with the Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar notably present.  Peace negotiations had resumed in December 2019.This  round of talks resulted in a seven-day partial ceasefire which began on 22 February 2020. On 29 February, the United States and the Taliban signed a conditional peace deal in Doha, Qatar that called for a prisoner exchange within ten days and was supposed to lead to U.S. troops withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months. However, the Afghan government was not a party to the deal, and, in a press conference the next day, President Ghani criticized the deal for being "signed behind closed doors." He said the Afghan government had "made no commitment to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners" and that such an action "is not the United States' authority, but it is the authority of the government of Afghanistan.” Ghani also stated that any prisoner exchange "cannot be a prerequisite for talks" but rather must be negotiated within the talks.

Insurgents belonging to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and ISIL-K, not part of the deal, continued to operate in parts of the country and hoped to attract the most intrasigent sector of the Taliban to their cause.

Spike in violence and prisoners' dispute

After signing the agreement with the United States, the Taliban resumed offensive operations against the Afghan army and police on 3 March, conducting attacks in Kunduz and Helmand provinces. On 4 March, the United States retaliated by launching an air strike against Taliban fighters in Helmand. Despite the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban, insurgent attacks against Afghan security forces were reported to have surged in the country. In the 45 days after the agreement (between March 1 and April 15, 2020), the Taliban conducted more than 4,500 attacks in Afghanistan, which showed an increase of more than 70% as compared to the same period in the previous year. More than 900 Afghan security forces were killed in the period, up from about 520 in the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, because of a significant reduction in the number of offensives and airstrikes by Afghan and US forces against the Taliban due to the agreement, Taliban casualties dropped to 610 in the period down from about 1,660 in the same period a year earlier.  Meanwhile ISIS-K continued to be a threat on its own, killing 32 people in a mass shooting in Kabul on March 6,  killing 25 Sikh worshippers at a Kabul temple on March 25, and a series of attacks in May most notably killing 16 mothers and newborn babies at a Kabul hospital maternity ward. 

On June 22, 2020, Afghanistan reported its "bloodiest week in 19 years," during which 291 members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) were killed and 550 others wounded in 422 attacks carried out by the Taliban. At least 42 civilians, including women and children, were also killed and 105 others wounded by the Taliban across 18 provinces.  During the week, the Taliban kidnapped 60 civilians in the central province of Daykundi. 

On 20 April 2020, Taliban in another attack killed at least 23 Afghan troops and nine civilians. On 30 July, a suicide car bomber killed 17 people in Puli AlamLogar Province.  In April 2020, the New York Times documented Afghan war casualties from 27 March until 23 April and informed that at least 262 pro-government forces, alongside 50 civilians have been killed in almost a month's time. Additionally, hundreds of civilians and Afghan forces also got injured.  The Taliban insurgency intensified considerably in 2021 coinciding with the withdrawal of United States and allied troops from Afghanistan.  On 30 April, a bombing in Puli Alam killed about 30 people. On 8 May, the bombing of a secondary school in west Kabul killed about 45 people. Most casualties were female students, who were leaving the school at the time.  ISIS-K also continued to mount attacks in the capital: on 15 May, a bombing inside a mosque killed 12 people and on 1 June, two bus bombings killed 10 people.

On the diplomatic front, on March 31, 2020 a three-person Taliban delegation arrived in Kabul to discuss the release of prisoners.  They are the first Taliban representatives to visit Kabul since 2001.  On April 7, 2020, the Taliban departed from the prisoner swap talks, which Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen described as "fruitless."  Shaheen also stated in a tweet that hours after walking out of the talks, the Taliban's negotiating team was recalled from Kabul.  The Taliban also failed to secure the release of any of the 15 commanders they sought to be released.  Arguments over which prisoners to swap also resulted in a delay of the planned prisoner swap.  After a long delay due to disputes regarding prisoners' releases, the Afghan government had by August 2020 released 5,100 prisoners,[554] and the Taliban had released 1,000.  However, the Afghan government refused to release 400 prisoners from the list of those the Taliban wanted to be released, because those 400 were accused of serious crimes. President Ghani stated that he did not have the constitutional authority to release these prisoners, so he convened a loya jirga from August 7 to 9 to discuss the issue. The jirga agreed to free the 400 remaining prisoners.  Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began in Doha on September 12, 2020.

Summer offensive and fall of Kabul

A major military offensive by the Taliban and allied militant groups against the government and its allies began on 1 May 2021.  In the first three months of the offensive, the Taliban made significant territorial gains in the countryside, increasing the number of districts it controlled from 73 to 223.  On July 5, 1000 Afghan soldiers were reported to have fled to Tajikistan to escape clashes with Taliban insurgents.[

The Taliban gained control of various towns throughout June and July. On August 6, they captured the first provincial capital of Zaranj. Over the next ten days, they swept across the country, capturing capital after capital. On August 14, Mazar-i-Sharif was captured as commanders Rashid Dostum and Atta Nur fled across the border to Uzbekistan, cutting Kabul's vital northern supply route. In the early hours of August 15, Jalalabad fell, cutting the only remaining international route through the Khyber Pass.  By noon of that day, Taliban forces advanced from the Paghman district reaching the gates of Kabul; President Ashraf Ghani discussed the city's protection with security ministers, while sources claimed a unity peace agreement with the Taliban was imminent. However, Ghani was unable to reach top officials in the interior and defense ministries, and several high-profile politicians had already hurried to the airport. By 1400 hours, the Taliban had entered the city facing no resistance; the president soon fled by helicopter from the Presidential Palace, and within hours Taliban fighters were pictured sitting at Ghani's desk in the palace.  With the virtual collapse of the republic, the war was declared over by the Taliban on the same day. 

Airlifts and final U.S. exit

As the Taliban seized control on August 15, 2021, the urgency to evacuate populations vulnerable to the Taliban, including those interpreters and assistants who had worked with the Operation Enduring Freedom; the International Security Assistance ForceOperation Freedom's Sentinel and the Resolute Support Mission; and ethnic minorities and women, became urgent. For more than two weeks, international diplomatic, military and civilian staff, as well as Afghan civilians, were airlifted out the country from Hamid Karzai International Airport. On 16 August Major General Hank Taylor confirmed that US air strikes had ended at least 24 hours earlier and that the focus of the US military at that point was maintaining security at the airport as evacuations continued.  The final flight, a US Air Force C-17, departed at 11:59 p.m. (Kabul time) on 30 August, marking the final end of the American campaign in Afghanistan and followed by celebratory gunfire by Taliban. 

Impact on Afghan society

Civilian casualties

According to the Costs of War Project at Brown University, the war killed 46,319 Afghan civilians in Afghanistan. However, the death toll is possibly higher due to unaccounted deaths by "disease, loss of access to food, water, infrastructure, and/or other indirect consequences of the war".  A report titled Body Count put together by Physicians for Social ResponsibilityPhysicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) concluded that 106,000–170,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting in Afghanistan at the hands of all parties to the conflict.

A UN report over the year 2009 stated that, of the 1,500 civilians having died from January until the end of August 2009, 70% were blamed on "anti-government elements". 

The US website of The Weekly Standard stated in 2010, referring to a UN Report, that 76% of civilian deaths in Afghanistan over the past year had been "caused by the Taliban".  That is a misquotation of the UNAMA Report, which does not attribute numbers of deaths directly to the Taliban, but to "anti-government elements" (AGE) and to "pro-government forces" (PGF). Over the period January until June 2010, indeed the report published in August 2010 stated that, of all 3,268 civilian casualties (dead or wounded), 2,477 casualties (76%) were caused by AGE, 386 caused by PGF (11%). 

Over the whole of 2010, with a total of 2,777 civilians killed, the UN reported 2,080 civilian deaths caused by "anti-government elements" (75%), "pro-government forces" caused 440 deaths, and 257 deaths "could not be attributed to any party". 

In July 2011, a UN report said "1,462 non-combatants died" in the first six months of 2011 (insurgents 80%).  In 2011 a record 3,021 civilians were killed, the fifth successive annual rise. According to a UN report, in 2013 there were 2,959 civilian deaths with 74% being blamed on anti-government forces, 8% on Afghan security forces, 3% on ISAF forces, 10% to ground engagements between anti-Government forces and pro-Government forces and 5% of the deaths were unattributed.  60% of Afghans have direct personal experience and most others report suffering a range of hardships. 96% have been affected either personally or from the wider consequences. 

In 2015, according to the United Nations (UN) annual report there were 3,545 civilian deaths and 7,457 people wounded.  The anti-government elements were responsible for 62% of the civilians killed or wounded. The pro-government forces caused 17% of civilian deaths and injuries – including United States and NATO troops, which were responsible for about 2% of the casualties.[581]

In 2016, a total of 3,498 civilians deaths and 7,920 injuries were recorded by the United Nations. The UN attributed 61% of casualties to anti-government forces.  Afghan security forces caused about 20% of the overall casualties, while pro-government militias and Resolute Support Mission caused 2% each. Air strikes by US and NATO warplanes resulted in at least 127 civilian deaths and 108 injuries. While, the Afghan air force accounted for at least 85 deaths and 167 injuries. The UN was not able to attribute responsibility for the remaining 38 deaths and 65 injuries resulting from air strikes..

During the parliamentary elections on 20 October 2018, several explosions targeting the polling stations took place. At least 36 people were killed and 130 were injured. Previously, ten election candidates were killed during the campaigning by the Taliban and the Islamic State group. 

On 28 December 2018 a report issued by UNICEF revealed that during the first nine months of 2018, five thousand children were killed or injured in Afghanistan. Manuel Fontaine UNICEF Director of Emergency Programs said the world has forgotten children living in conflict zones.

According to the Human Rights Watch, more than 10,000 civilians were killed or wounded during 2018, out of which one third were children. Reportedly, countless deadly attacks were carried out in urban areas by insurgents. Airstrikes and night raids by the US and Afghan forces also caused heavy civilian casualties.

Health care

Between 2001 and 2021, Afghanistan experienced improvements in health, education and women's rights. Life expectancy has increased from 56 to 64 years and the maternal mortality rate has reduced by half. 89% of residents living in cities have access to clean water, up from 16% in 2001. The rate of child marriage has been reduced by 17%.

A September 2019 Taliban attack destroyed most buildings of the main hospital in southern Afghanistan and killed almost 40 people, due to which the country is now reportedly struggling to efficiently fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refugees

Since 2001, more than 5.7 million former refugees have returned to Afghanistan, but 2.6 million others remained refugees in 2021 and few refugees were returning. After many years of returning refugees, the tide started to turn both due to a poor economic situation and a significant increase of violence, leading to increasing numbers fleeing as of 2009.

In January 2013 the UN estimated that 547,550 were internally displaced persons, a 25% increase over the 447,547 IDPs estimated for January 2012  400,000 people were displaced in 2020 and 200,000 were displaced in the first half of 2021.

As of 2020, Pakistan has taken in the largest number of Afghan refugees, followed by Iran. Smaller numbers have taken refuge in IndiaIndonesia and Tajikistan. Outside Asia, Germany took in by far the largest number of refugees as well as the largest amount of asylum seekers.

Following the Taliban takeover, over 122,000 people were airlifted abroad from Kabul airport, during the evacuation from Afghanistan, including Afghans, American citizens, and other foreign citizens.

Interpreters

Afghans who interpreted for the British army have been tortured and killed in Afghanistan, including their families. As of May 2018, the UK government has now resettled 3,000 interpreters and family members in the UK.

Drug trade

 

From 1996 to 1999, the Taliban controlled 96% of Afghanistan's poppy fields and made opium its largest source of revenue. Taxes on opium exports became one of the mainstays of Taliban income. According to Rashid, "drug money funded the weapons, ammunition and fuel for the war". In The New York Times, the Finance Minister of the United Front, Wahidullah Sabawoon, declared the Taliban had no annual budget but that they "appeared to spend US$300 million a year, nearly all of it on war". He added that the Taliban had come to increasingly rely on three sources of money: "poppy, the Pakistanis and bin Laden".

By 2000 Afghanistan accounted for an estimated 75% of the world's opium supply and in 2000 produced an estimated 3276 tonnes from 82,171 hectares (203,050 acres). Omar then banned opium cultivation and production dropped to an estimated 74 metric tonnes from 1,685 hectares (4,160 acres).  Some observers say the ban – which came in a bid for international recognition at the United Nations – was issued only to raise opium prices and increase profit from the sale of large existing stockpiles. 1999 had yielded a record crop and had been followed by a lower but still large 2000 harvest. The trafficking of accumulated stocks continued in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, the UN mentioned the "existence of significant stocks of opiates accumulated during previous years of bumper harvests". In September 2001 – before the 11 September attacks against the US – the Taliban allegedly authorized Afghan peasants to sow opium again. 

Soon after the invasion opium production increased markedly.  By 2005, Afghanistan was producing 90% of the world's opium, most of which was processed into heroin and sold in Europe and Russia. In 2009, the BBC reported that "UN findings say an opium market worth $65bn (£39bn) funds global terrorism, caters to 15 million addicts, and kills 100,000 people every year".

United States officials stated that winning the War on drugs in Afghanistan is integral for winning the War on Terror in Afghanistan, and asked for international assistance in drug eradication efforts.

According to a 2018 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US spent $8.6 billion since 2002 to stop Afghanistan's drug trade and deny the Taliban a revenue source. A May 2021 SIGAR report estimated that the Taliban earn 60% of their annual revenue from the trade, while UN officials estimated more than $400 million was earned by the Taliban from the trade between 2018 and 2019, however other experts have disputed this and estimated that the Taliban earns at most $40 million annually from the drug trade.

Public education

As of 2013, 8.2 million Afghans attended school, up from 1.2 million in 2001.[609] The literacy rate has risen from 8% to 43% since 2001. 

All Afghan children are legally required to complete class nine. In 2017, Human Rights Watch reported that the Afghan government was unable to provide a system to ensure all children received this level of education and, in practice, many children missed out.  In 2018, UNICEF reported that 3.7 million children between the ages of 7 and 17, or 44 percent, were not attending school. 

As of 2017, the Afghan government has cooperated with Taliban forces to provide education services: in Khogyani District, the government is given "nominal control" by local Taliban fighters in return for paying the wages of teachers whom the Taliban appoint in local schools. 

Girls' education

As of 2013, 3.2 million girls attended school, up fewer than 50,000 in 2001.  39% of girls were attending school in 2017 compared to 6% in 2003. In 2021, a third of students at university were women and 27% of members of parliament were women. 

While the Taliban typically opposed girls' education, in 2017 in Khogyani District it has allowed girls to receive education in order to improve its standing among local residents. 

In 2018, UNICEF reported that sixty percent of girls did not attend school. In some provinces such as Kandahar, Helmand, Wardak, Paktika, Zabul and Uruzgan, 85 percent of girls were not going to school. 

War crimes

War crimes (a serious violation of the laws and customs of war giving rise to individual criminal responsibility)  have been committed by both sides including civilian massacres, bombings of civilian targets, terrorism, use of torture and the murder of prisoners of war. Additional common crimes include theft, arson, and destruction of property not warranted by military necessity.

Taliban

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIGRC) called the Taliban's terrorism against the Afghan civilian population a war crime. According to Amnesty International, the Taliban commit war crimes by targeting civilians, including killing teachers, abducting aid workers and burning school buildings. Amnesty International said that up to 756 civilians were killed in 2006 by bombs, mostly on roads or carried by suicide attackers belonging to the Taliban. 

NATO has alleged that the Taliban have used civilians as human shields. As an example, NATO pointed to the victims of NATO air strikes in Farah province in May 2009, during which the Afghan government claims up to 150 civilians were killed. NATO stated it had evidence the Taliban forced civilians into buildings likely to be targeted by NATO aircraft involved in the battle. A spokesman for the ISAF commander said: "This was a deliberate plan by the Taliban to create a civilian casualty crisis. These were not human shields; these were human sacrifices. We have intelligence that points to this."[616] According to the US State Department, the Taliban committed human rights violations against women in Afghanistan. 

On 7 August 2010, Taliban gunmen killed medical aid workers in Afghanistan. After returning from an on foot trip to provide medical aid and care, the group of six Americans, a Briton, a German and four Afghans was accosted and shot by gunmen in a nearby forest in the Hindu Kush mountains.  This attack was the largest massacre on aid workers in Afghanistan and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.  The Taliban claimed the Christian aid group which had been active in Afghanistan was responsible for spying, and that they were not providing any actual aid. This attack on aid workers constitutes one of the many war crimes committed by the Taliban. 

In 2011, The New York Times reported that the Taliban was responsible for 34 of all civilian deaths in the war in Afghanistan.  In 2013 the UN stated that the Taliban had been placing bombs along transit routes. 

In 2015, Amnesty International reported that the Taliban committed mass murder and gang rape of Afghan civilians in Kunduz.  Taliban fighters killed and raped female relatives of police commanders and soldiers as well as midwives.  One female human rights activist described the situation in the following manner: 

"When the Taliban asserted their control over Kunduz, they claimed to be bringing law and order and Shari'a to the city. But everything they've done has violated both. I don't know who can rescue us from this situation."

On 25 July 2019, there were three explosions in the capital of Kabul that killed at least fifteen people, leaving dozens wounded. The attack was targeting a bus carrying government officials from the ministry of mines and petroleum.  The attacks left five women and children dead. Minutes later, a suicide bomber blew himself up nearby and this resulted in another seven dead.  A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

On 12 July 2021, Taliban fighters executed 22 unarmed Afghan commandos after the commandos surrendered due to running out of ammunition. One of the commandos was the son of a retired Afghan general. 

Northern Alliance

In December 2001, the Dasht-i-Leili massacre took place, where between 250 and 3,000 Taliban fighters who had surrendered, were shot and/or suffocated to death in metal truck containers during transportation by Northern Alliance forces. Reports place US ground troops at the scene.

 The Irish documentary Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death investigated these allegations and claimed that mass graves of thousands of victims were found by UN investigators  and that the US blocked investigations into the incident. 

NATO and allies

On 21 June 2003, David Passaro, a CIA contractor and former United States Army Ranger, killed Abdul Wali, a prisoner at a US base 16 km (10 mi) south of Asadabad, in Kunar Province. Passaro was found guilty of one count of felony assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of misdemeanor assault. On 10 August 2009, he was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in prison. 

In 2002, two unarmed civilian Afghan prisoners were tortured and later killed by US armed forces personnel at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (also Bagram Collection Point or B.C.P.) in Bagram, Afghanistan. The prisoners, Habibullah and Dilawar, were chained to the ceiling and beaten, which caused their deaths.  Military coroners ruled that both the prisoners' deaths were homicides. Autopsies revealed severe trauma to both prisoners' legs, describing the trauma as comparable to being run over by a bus. Fifteen soldiers were charged.

During the summer of 2010, ISAF charged five United States Army soldiers with the murder of three Afghan civilians in Kandahar province and collecting their body parts as trophies in what came to be known as the Maywand District murders. In addition, seven soldiers were charged with crimes such as hashish use, impeding an investigation and attacking the whistleblowerSpecialist Justin Stoner.  Eleven of the twelve soldiers were convicted on various counts. 

A British Royal Marine Sergeant, identified as Sergeant Alexander Blackman from Taunton, Somerset,  was convicted at court martial in Wiltshire of the murder of an unarmed, reportedly wounded, Afghan fighter in Helmand Province in September 2011.  In 2013, he received a life sentence from the court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, and was dismissed with disgrace from the Royal Marines. In 2017, after appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court (CMAC), his conviction was lessened to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and the sentence was reduced to seven years effectively releasing Blackman due to time served. 

On 11 March 2012, the Kandahar massacre occurred when sixteen civilians were killed and six wounded in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Nine of the victims were children, and eleven of the dead were from the same family. United States Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was taken into custody and charged with sixteen counts of premeditated murder. Bales pleaded guilty to sixteen counts of premeditated murder as part of a plea deal to avoid a death sentence, and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison without parole and dishonorably discharged from the United States Army. 

In November 2014, Amnesty International accused the Pentagon of covering up evidence related to war crimestorture and unlawful killings in Afghanistan.

On 3 October 2015, a USAF airstrike hit a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz during the Battle of Kunduz. 42 people were killed and over 30 were injured in the airstrike Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the airstrike may have been a war crime.[648] Eleven days after the airstrike, a US tank entered the hospital compound. Doctors Without Borders officials said: "Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear for the MSF team."  An investigation by the United States Central Command concluded that certain personnel failed to comply with the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict. However, the investigation concluded that the airstrike was not a war crime, stating that the label "war crimes" is typically reserved for intentional acts—intentionally targeting civilians or intentionally targeting protected objects (like hospitals). The investigation found that the incident resulted from a mixture of human errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a medical facility, 

In September 2018, the United States threatened to arrest and impose sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) judges and other officials if they charged any US soldiers who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. The US further stated it would not cooperate with the ICC if it carried out an investigation into allegations of war crimes by the US in Afghanistan. On 12 April 2019 a panel of ICC judges decided not to open an investigation regarding Afghanistan. The Court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda provided a report that established "a reasonable basis" that crimes had been committed, but they decided against continuing because the US and other parties would not cooperate.  In March 2020, senior judges at the ICC called for the investigation into war crimes by the US, Afghan and Taliban troops in Afghanistan, overturning the previous rejection of a probe into the US’ role in committing war crimes. 

Australian whistleblower David McBride leaked classified documents to ABC journalists in 2017, who went on to produce a series called The Afghan Files. The documents covered a wide range of topics, including multiple cases of unlawful killings of unarmed civilians. In response to the leak, the Australian Federal Police raided the ABC's offices in June 2019.  The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force publicly released a redacted version of the Afghanistan Inquiry, otherwise known as the Brereton Report, in November 2020, detailing misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan, predominantly the SAS.  It found evidence of 39 unlawful killings by Australian forces, including murdering non-combatants and the execution of prisoners, resulting in the disbandment of an SAS squadron and a police investigation.

White phosphorus use

White phosphorus has been condemned by human rights organizations as cruel and inhumane because it causes severe burns. White phosphorus burns on the bodies of civilians wounded in clashes near Bagram were confirmed. The US claims at least 44 instances in which militants have used white phosphorus in weapons or attacks. In May 2009, the US confirmed that Western military forces in Afghanistan use white phosphorus to illuminate targets or as an incendiary to destroy bunkers and enemy equipment. US forces used white phosphorus to screen a retreat in the Battle of Ganjgal when regular smoke munitions were not available.

Costs

The cost of the war reportedly was a major factor as US officials considered drawing down troops in 2011.The estimated average cost of deploying just one US soldier in Afghanistan is over US$1 million a year.

In March 2019, the United States Department of Defense estimated fiscal obligations of $737.592 billion have incurred expended during FY2001 to FY2018 in Afghanistan, at a cost of $3,714 per taxpayer.

 However Brown University research came up with a higher figure of $975 billion for FY2001 to FY2019.

For FY2019, the United States Department of Defense requested approximately $46.3 billion for Operation FREEDOM'S SENTINEL (US codename for War in Afghanistan) and Related Missions[670]

According to Investment in Blood, a book by Frank Ledwidge, summations for the UK contribution to the war in Afghanistan came to £37bn ($56.46 billion).

Long-term costs

In March 2013, Linda Bilmes, a Senior Lecturer of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, estimated that the total costs of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would come to total at least US$4 to $6 trillion. The two wars were counted as one cost due to their occurring simultaneously and using many of the same US troops. Collectively, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are expected become the most expensive wars in US history.

The $4 to $6 trillion cost includes long-term medical and disability costs for service members, military replenishment, and social and economic costs. The costs of benefits for veterans were expected to continue increasing over the following 40 years. A significant part of the expected final cost was due to "the budgetary impact of a war that is funded largely by borrowing", and the resulting additional interest costs—out of the $9 trillion of US debt accrued since 2001, around $2 trillion had been borrowed to finance the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. 

As of 2021, Brown University estimates that the war in Afghanistan has already cost $2.261 trillion, out of which $530 billion has been spent on interest payments and $296 billion has been spent on veterans' care. 

United States Costs to date of the War in Afghanistan, 2001–2021 
Estimated Congressional Appropriations and Spending in Current Billions of US Dollars, Excluding Future Interest Payments and Future Costs for Veterans Care

(Rounded to nearest billion)

Defense Department Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) (War) Budget $933
State Department OCO (War) Budget $59
Defense Department Base Budget War-Related Increases $443
Veterans Care for Afghan War Vets $296
Estimated Interest on War Borrowing $530
Total, in Billions of Current Dollars $2,261

Criticism of costs

In 2011, the independent Commission on Wartime Contracting reported to Congress that, during the previous decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States had lost between $31 and $60 billion to waste and fraud and that this amount may continue to increase. 

In the summer of 2013, preparing for withdrawal the following year, the US military destroyed over 77,000 metric tons of equipment and vehicles worth over $7 billion that could not be shipped back to the United States. Some was sold to Afghans as scrap metal.  In 2013, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, a US government oversight body, criticized the misuse or waste of hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid, including the $772 million purchase of aircraft for the Afghan military especially since "the Afghans lack the capacity to operate and maintain them".[676]

In interviews conducted for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction's Lessons Learned Program, one interviewee estimated that 40 percent of US aid to Afghanistan since 2001 ended up in the pockets of corrupt officials, warlords, criminals and insurgents.

 Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, told the investigators in a 2016 interview, "You just cannot put those amounts of money into a very fragile state and society, and not have it fuel corruption."As the Taliban threatened stability in Kabul in 2021, President Biden justified his decision to withdraw US troops by saying: "We spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years."

Stability problems

In a 2008 interview, the then-head US Central Command General David H. Petraeus, insisted that the Taliban were gaining strength. He cited a recent increase in attacks in Afghanistan and in neighboring Pakistan. Petraeus insisted that the problems in Afghanistan were more complicated than the ones he had faced in Iraq during his tour and required removing widespread sanctuaries and strongholds.

Observers have argued that the mission in Afghanistan is hampered by a lack of agreement on objectives, a lack of resources, lack of coordination, too much focus on the central government at the expense of local and provincial governments, and too much focus on the country instead of the region.

According to Cara Korte, Climate change played a significant role in increasing instability in Afghanistan and strengthening the Taliban. More than 60% of the Afghan population depend on agriculture and Afghanistan is the sixth most vulnerable country to climate change in the world according to the United Nations Environment Program and Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency. The Taliban used resentment over government inaction to climate change induced drought and flooding to strengthen its support and Afghans were able to earn money supporting the Taliban than from farming.[

 
Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama in 2009

In 2009, Afghanistan moved three places in Transparency International's annual index of corruption, becoming the world's second most-corrupt country just ahead of Somalia. In the same month, Malalai Joya, a former member of the Afghan Parliament and the author of "Raising My Voice", expressed opposition to an expansion of the US military presence and her concerns about the future. "Eight years ago, the US and NATO—under the banner of women's rights, human rights, and democracy—occupied my country and pushed us from the frying pan into the fire. Eight years is enough to know better about the corrupt, mafia system of President Hamid Karzai. My people are crushed between two powerful enemies. From the sky, occupation forces bomb and kill civilians ... and on the ground, the Taliban and warlords continue their crimes. It is better that they leave my country; my people are that fed up. Occupation will never bring liberation, and it is impossible to bring democracy by war." 

Pakistan plays a central role in the conflict. A 2010 report published by the London School of Economics says that Pakistan's ISI has an "official policy" of support to the Taliban.  "Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude," the report states. Regarding the Afghan War documents leak published by WikiLeaks, Der Spiegel wrote that "the documents clearly show that the Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (usually known as the ISI) is the most important accomplice the Taliban has outside of Afghanistan".[686] Amrullah Saleh, former director of Afghanistan's intelligence service, stated, "We talk about all these proxies [Taliban, Haqqanis] but not the master of proxies, which is the Pakistan army. The question is what does Pakistan's army want to achieve ...? They want to gain influence in the region"  About the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan he stated: "[T]hey fight for the US national interest but ... without them we will face massacre and disaster and God knows what type of a future Afghanistan will have."

The New York Times reported in a 2017 article, that the US created a 'void' that allowed other countries to step in. For example, Iran was making efforts to expand influence into Afghanistan and fill the vacuum. In the past two decades, the US took out two of Iran's regional enemies: Saddam Hussein through the Iraq War as well as the Taliban. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are other 'dominant players'. The article reported that former enemies, Iran and the Taliban had strengthened ties, with Russian assistance as well, to 'bleed' the American force and that Iran and Russia, emboldened by their alliance in the Syrian Civil War, initiated a 'proxy war' in Afghanistan against the US. The article reported that the Taliban were 'diversifying' its sources by calling for economic support from Dubai, UAE and Bahrain. Pakistan has also given economic support and encouraged increased Iran-Taliban ties. 

China has also been quietly expanding its influence. Since 2010 China has signed mining contracts with Kabul and is even building a military base in Badakshan to counter regional terrorism (from the ETIM).

China has donated billions of dollars in aid over the years to Afghanistan, which plays a strategic role in the Belt and Road InitiativeThe Diplomat says that China has the potential to play an important role in bringing peace and stability to the region. 

According to senior administration officials, Donald Trump said during a meeting at the White House in July 2017 that the US was losing the war and had considered firing the US generals in charge.  An article in NBC said that what set Trump apart during that meeting relative to his predecessors was his open questioning of the quality of the advice that he was receiving. 

In December 2019 The Washington Post published 2,000 pages of government documents, mostly transcripts of interviews with more than 400 key figures involved in prosecuting the Afghanistan war. According to the Post and the Guardian, the documents (dubbed the Afghanistan Papers) showed that US officials consistently and deliberately misled the American public about the unwinnable nature of the conflict, and some commentators and foreign policy experts subsequently drew comparisons to the release of the Pentagon Papers.  The Post obtained the documents from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, via Freedom of Information Act requests, after a three-year legal battle. 

Afghan security forces

Afghan National Army

US policy called for boosting the Afghan National Army to 134,000 soldiers by October 2010. By May 2010 the Afghan Army had accomplished this interim goal and was on track to reach its ultimate number of 171,000 by 2011. 

 This increase in Afghan troops allowed the US to begin withdrawing its forces in July 2011. 

In 2010, the Afghan National Army had limited fighting capacity.  Even the best Afghan units lacked training, discipline and adequate reinforcements. In one new unit in Baghlan Province, soldiers had been found cowering in ditches rather than fighting.  Some were suspected of collaborating with the Taliban. 

 "They don't have the basics, so they lay down," said Capt. Michael Bell, who was one of a team of US and Hungarian mentors tasked with training Afghan soldiers. "I ran around for an hour trying to get them to shoot, getting fired on. I couldn't get them to shoot their weapons."

In addition, 9 out of 10 soldiers in the Afghan National Army were illiterate. 

The Afghan Army was plagued by inefficiency and endemic corruption.  US training efforts were drastically slowed by the problems. US trainers reported missing vehicles, weapons and other military equipment, and outright theft of fuel.

Death threats were leveled against US officers who tried to stop Afghan soldiers from stealing. Afghan soldiers often snipped the command wires of IEDs instead of marking them and waiting for US forces to come to detonate them. This allowed insurgents to return and reconnect them.  US trainers frequently removed the cell phones of Afghan soldiers hours before a mission for fear that the operation would be compromised.

American trainers often spent much time verifying that Afghan rosters were accurate — that they were not padded with "ghosts" being "paid" by Afghan commanders who stole the wages.

Desertion was a significant problem. One in every four combat soldiers quit the Afghan Army during the 12-month period ending in September 2009, according to data from the US Defense Department and the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan. 

In early 2015, Philip Munch of the Afghanistan Analysts' Network wrote that "... the available evidence suggests that many senior ANSF members, in particular, use their positions to enrich themselves. Within the ANSF there are also strong external loyalties to factions who themselves compete for influence and access to resources. All this means that the ANSF may not work as they officially should. Rather it appears that the political economy of the ANSF prevents them from working like modern organisations – the very prerequisite of the Resolute Support Mission." 

 Formal and informal income, Munch said, which can be generated through state positions, is rent-seeking – income without a corresponding investment of labour or capital. "Reportedly, ANA appointees also often maintain clients, so that patron-client networks, structured into competing factions, can be traced within the ANA down to the lowest levels. [...] There is evidence that Afghan officers and officials, especially in the higher echelons, appropriate large parts of the vast resource flows which are directed by international donors into the ANA."

According to American journalist Annie Jacobsen in her 2019 book on the "secret history" of CIA paramilitary operations, most Afghan fighters being trained by the US habitually used opium, and it was a constant struggle to field them in a sober state. The same book claimed that rape of Afghan recruits by other Afghan soldiers occurred in US-run military facilities, undermining combat readiness. Jacobsen wrote that a 2018 report by a US inspector general noted 5,753 cases of "gross human rights abuses by Afghan forces", including "routine enslavement and rape of underage boys by Afghan commanders".

According to a 2017 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), between of 2010 and 2016, the Department of Defense made 5,753 Leahy Law vetting requests for Afghan security forces. The Leahy law prohibits U.S. funding of foreign security units if there are credible reports of gross violation of human rights. According to SIGAR, between 2010 and 2016, 75 allegations of gross violations of human rights by Afghan security forces, including murder and 16 cases of child sexual assault were reported to the Department of Defense. Around a dozen Afghan units accused of abuses continued to receive U.S. funding due to an exception in the law allowing funding to continue if units are deemed to be important for "national security concern."

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has reported that roughly half of Afghan soldiers brought to the United States for training go absent without leave which may inhibit the operational readiness of their units back in Afghanistan, negatively impact the morale of other trainees and home units and pose security risks to the United States.

Afghan National Police

The Afghan National Police provides support to the Afghan army. Police officers in Afghanistan are also largely illiterate. Approximately 17% of them tested positive for illegal drugs in 2010. They were widely accused of demanding bribes. Attempts to build a credible Afghan police force were faltering badly, according to NATO officials.

 A quarter of the officers quit every year, making the Afghan government's goals of substantially building up the police force even harder to achieve.

Tactics/strategy of anti-government elements

The armed opposition or anti-government elements – some Western news media tend to address them all simply as "Taliban"  – have from 2008 into 2009 shifted their tactics from frontal attacks on pro-government forces to guerrilla type activities, including suicide, car and roadside bombs (IEDs), and targeted assassinations, said a UNAMA report in July 2009.  Mr. Maley, an Afghanistan expert at the Australian National University, stated in 2009 that IEDs had become Taliban's weapon of choice. 

In 2008–2009, according to the Christian Science Monitor, 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were planted in girls' schools in Afghanistan, but there is no certainty who did it. 

Insider attacks

Beginning in 2011, insurgent forces in Afghanistan began using a tactic of insider attacks on ISAF and Afghan military forces. In the attacks, Taliban personnel or sympathizers belonging to, or pretending to belong to, the Afghan military or police forces attack ISAF personnel, often within the security of ISAF military bases and Afghan government facilities. In 2011, for example, 21 insider attacks killed 35 coalition personnel. Forty-six insider attacks killed 63 and wounded 85 coalition troops, mostly American, in the first 11 months of 2012.

The attacks continued but began diminishing towards the planned 31 December 2014 ending of combat operations in Afghanistan by ISAF. However, on 5 August 2014, a gunman in an Afghan military uniform opened fire on a number of international military personnel, killing a US general and wounding about 15 officers and soldiers, including a German brigadier general and 8 US troops, at a training base west of Kabul.

Reactions

Domestic reactions

In November 2001, the CNN reported widespread relief amongst Kabul's residents after the Taliban fled the city, with young men shaving off their beards and women taking off their burqas.[717] Later that month the BBC's longtime Kabul correspondent Kate Clark reported that "almost all women in Kabul are still choosing to veil" but that many felt hopeful that the ousting of the Taliban would improve their safety and access to food.

A 2006 WPO opinion poll found that the majority of Afghans endorsed America's military presence, with 83% of Afghans stating that they had a favorable view of the US military forces in their country. Only 17% gave an unfavorable view.[719] The majority of Afghans, among all ethnic groups including Pashtuns, stated that the overthrowing of the Taliban was a good thing. 82% of Afghans as a whole and 71% of those living in the war zone held this anti-Taliban view.  The Afghan population gave the USA one of its most favorable ratings in the world. A solid majority (81%) of Afghans stated that they held a favorable view of the USA. How ever, the majority of Afghans (especially those in the war zone) held negative views on Pakistan and most Afghans also stated that they believe that the Pakistani government was allowing the Taliban to operate from its soil.

Polls of Afghans displayed strong opposition to the Taliban and significant support of the US military presence. However, the idea of permanent US military bases was not popular in 2005.[

According to a May 2009 BBC poll, 69% of Afghans surveyed thought it was at least mostly good that the US military came in to remove the Taliban—a decrease from 87% of Afghans surveyed in 2005. 24% thought it was mostly or very bad—up from 9% in 2005. The poll indicated that 63% of Afghans were at least somewhat supportive of a US military presence in the country—down from 78% in 2005. Just 18% supported increasing the US military's presence, while 44% favored reducing it. 90% of Afghans surveyed opposed the Taliban, including 70% who were strongly opposed. By an 82%–4% margin, people said they preferred the current government to Taliban rule. 

In a June 2009 Gallup survey, about half of Afghan respondents felt that additional US forces would help stabilize the security situation in the southern provinces. But opinions varied widely; residents in the troubled South were mostly mixed or uncertain, while those in the West largely disagreed that more US troops would help the situation. 

In December 2009, many Afghan tribal heads and local leaders from the south and east called for US troop withdrawals. "I don't think we will be able to solve our problems with military force," said Muhammad Qasim, a Kandahar tribal elder. "We can solve them by providing jobs and development and by using local leaders to negotiate with the Taliban."

 "If new troops come and are stationed in civilian areas, when they draw Taliban attacks civilians will end up being killed," said Gulbadshah Majidi, a lawmaker and close associate of Mr. Karzai. "This will only increase the distance between Afghans and their government."

In late January 2010, Afghan protesters took to the streets for three straight days and blocked traffic on a highway that links Kabul and Kandahar. The Afghans were demonstrating in response to the deaths of four men in a NATO-Afghan raid in the village of Ghazni. Ghazni residents insisted that the dead were civilians. 

A 2015 survey by Langer Research Associates found that 77% of Afghans support the presence of US forces; 67% also support the presence of NATO forces. Despite the problems in the country, 80% of Afghans still held the view that it was a good thing for the United States to overthrow the Taliban in 2001. More Afghans blame the Taliban or al-Qaeda for the country's violence (53%) than those who blame the USA (12%). 

A 2019 survey by The Asia Foundation found that 13.4% of Afghans had sympathy for the Taliban while 85.1% of respondents had no sympathy for the group. 88.6% of urban residents had no sympathy compared to 83.9% of rural residents.

International reactions

 47-nation global survey of public opinion conducted in June 2007 by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found considerable opposition to the NATO military operations in Afghanistan. Only Israel and Kenya citizens were in favor of the war.  On the other hand, in 41 of the 47 countries pluralities wanted NATO troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. The authors of the survey mentioned a "global unease with major world powers" and in America that "Afghan War not worth it".

 In 32 out of 47 countries majorities wanted NATO troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. Majorities in 7 out of 12 NATO member countries wanted troops withdrawn as soon as possible.

In 2008 there was a strong opposition to war in Afghanistan in 21 of 24 countries surveyed. Only in the US and Great Britain did half the people support the war, with a larger percentage (60%) in Australia. 

 Since then, public opinion in Australia and Britain has shifted, and the majority of Australians and British now also want their troops to be brought home from Afghanistan. Authors of articles on the issue mentioned that "Australians lose faith in Afghan War effort" and "cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace".

 Of the seven NATO countries in the survey, not one showed a majority in favor of keeping NATO troops in Afghanistan – one, the US, came close to a majority (50%). Of the other six NATO countries, five had majorities of their population wanting NATO troops removed from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

The 2009 global survey reported that majorities or pluralities in 18 out of 25 countries wanted NATO to remove their troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Despite American calls for NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, there was majority or plurality opposition to such action in every one of the NATO countries surveyed.

 

Public opinion in 2001

When the invasion began in October 2001, polls indicated that about 88% of Americans and about 65% of Britons backed military action. 

A large-scale 37-nation poll of world opinion carried out by Gallup International in late September 2001 found that large majorities in most countries favored a legal response, in the form of extradition and trial, over a military response to 9/11: in only three countries out of the 37 surveyed—the US, Israel and India—did majorities favor military action. In the other 34 countries surveyed, the poll found many clear majorities that favored extradition and trial instead of military action: in the United Kingdom (75%), France (67%), Switzerland (87%), Czech Republic (64%), Lithuania (83%), Panama (80%) and Mexico (94%). 

An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between November and December 2001 showed that majorities in Canada (66%), France (60%), Germany (60%), Italy (58%), and the UK (65%) approved of US airstrikes while majorities in Argentina (77%), China (52%), South Korea (50%), Spain (52%), and Turkey (70%) opposed them. 

Development of public opinion

In a 47-nation June 2007 survey of global public opinion, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found international opposition to the war. Out of the 47 countries surveyed, 4 had a majority that favored keeping foreign troops: the US (50%), Israel (59%), Ghana (50%), and Kenya (60%). In 41, pluralities wanted NATO troops out as soon as possible.  In 32 out of 47, clear majorities wanted war over as soon as possible. Majorities in 7 out of 12 NATO member countries said troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible.

A 24-nation Pew Global Attitudes survey in June 2008 similarly found that majorities or pluralities in 21 of 24 countries want the US and NATO to remove their troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Only in three out of the 24 countries—the US (50%), Australia (60%), and Britain (48%)—did public opinion lean more toward keeping troops there until the situation has stabilized.

Following that June 2008 global survey, however, public opinion in Australia and Britain diverged from that in the US. A majority of Australians and Britons now want their troops home. A September 2008 poll found that 56% of Australians opposed continuation of their country's military involvement. A November 2008 poll found that 68% of Britons wanted their troops withdrawn within the next 12 months. 

In the US, a September 2008 Pew survey found that 61% of Americans wanted US troops to stay until the situation has stabilized, while 33% wanted them removed as soon as possible.  Public opinion was divided over Afghan troop requests: a majority of Americans continued to see a rationale for the use of military force in Afghanistan. A slight plurality of Americans favored troop increases, with 42%–47% favoring some troop increases, 39%–44% wanting reduction, and 7–9% wanting no changes. Just 29% of Democrats favored troop increases while 57% wanted to begin reducing troops. Only 36% of Americans approved of Obama's handling of Afghanistan, including 19% of Republicans, 31% of independents, and 54% of Democrats. 

In a December 2009 Pew Research Center poll, only 32% of Americans favored increasing US troops in Afghanistan, while 40% favored decreasing them. Almost half of Americans, 49%, believed that the US should "mind its own business" internationally and let other countries get along the best they can. That figure was an increase from 30% who said that in December 2002. 

An April 2011 Pew Research Center poll showed little change in American views, with about 50% saying that the effort was going very well or fairly well and only 44% supporting NATO troop presence in Afghanistan.

Protests, demonstrations and rallies

The war has been the subject of large protests around the world starting with the large-scale demonstrations in the days leading up to the invasion and every year since. Many protesters consider the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan to be unjustified aggression.  The deaths of Afghan civilians caused directly and indirectly by the US and NATO bombing campaigns is a major underlying focus of the protests.  In January 2009, Brave New Foundation launched Rethink Afghanistan, a national campaign for non-violent solutions in Afghanistan built around a documentary film by director and political activist Robert Greenwald.  Dozens of organizations planned (and eventually held) a national march for peace in Washington, D.C. on 20 March 2010. 

Aftermath

Formation of the Taliban government

On 7 September 2021, an interim government headed by Mohammad Hassan Akhund as Prime Minister was declared by the Taliban.

Panjshir conflict

On 17 August 2021, Vice President Amrullah Saleh, citing provisions of the Constitution of Afghanistan, declared himself President of Afghanistan from a base of operations in the Panjshir Valley, which had not been taken by Taliban forces, and vowed to continue military operations against the Taliban from there.  His claim to the presidency was endorsed by Ahmad Massoud and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Minister of Defence Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. 

 The Panjshir-based resistance recaptured the provincial capital of Charikar on 17 August 2021.

ISIL Threat conflict

Following the 2021 Kabul airport attack conducted by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (a branch of the ISIL), the US and the Taliban have mutually agreed together to fight against the ISIS terrorists in the International military intervention against ISIL