Afghan National Army soldiers walk up a hill as they arrive for a training session at the Kabul Military Training Center
• Hundreds of Afghan soldiers are said to have abandoned their bases without putting up a fight.
• Officials gave different answers for the move, with local government officials citing low morale in the high-casualty conflict with the Taliban.
• Military officials suggested that the troops were ordered to leave as part of a broader security plan.
Several hundred Afghan National Army soldiers abandoned their bases in the northern province of Faryab, while Afghan officials gave conflicting reasons for their departure.
Faryab Governor Naqibullah Fayeq told TOLO News the outposts were abandoned due to low morale among the soldiers, while one Afghan army general said the soldiers “were ordered to leave the bases to receive better training and equipment.”
Meanwhile, an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman gave this confusing reason to the paper:
“Based on the four-year security plan which will become a six-year plan as we have obtained financial support (for it) at the Brussels (summit) through to 2024, insecurity, relocation of army and other security plans are implemented in accordance with this plan and there is no other issue,” said Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
The convoy was ambushed by Taliban fighters as they left the area and headed to the Qaisar district center. There were conflicting reports regarding the number of Afghan and Taliban fighters killed.
Fighting in Faryab, Nangarhar, Helmand, Kunar, Kandahar, and Ghazni provinces have accounted for 60 percent of all security incidents this quarter, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
A spokesman for the U.S. Resolute Support mission did not respond to a request for comment.