Fall of Sangin

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Fall of Sangin
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
DateJanuary 2017 – 23 March 2017

Taliban victory

  • Taliban capture Sangin
  • Afghan forces withdrew from Sangin
Taliban Afghanistan Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Supported by:
 United States
Commanders and leaders
Mullah Agha [1]
(shadow Governor of Helmand)
Afghanistan Mohammad Rasoul[2]
(Sangin police chief)
Units involved
Red Group (Taliban special forces)[3]

Afghan National Security Forces

Unknown 30 soldiers and 8 police officers (at the time of the fall)[4]
Casualties and losses
32 killed, 40 injured[5] 100+KIA[6]
None reported

The town of Sangin, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was captured by the Taliban on 23 March 2017. For two months, the Taliban had launched fresh attacks in trying to recapture the town.[7]

Early fights[edit]

In January, Taliban fighters launched a strong attack against government positions in Sangin, killing more than 100 soldiers and police officers, but they were driven back with help from extra troops and airstrikes. Officials said the fighters used tunnels from private houses to reach front-line government checkpoints.[6] Also on 31 January, 19 Taliban fighters were killed and 25 others wounded. Two Afghan service members were killed and as many wounded during the clashes.[8]

On 2 February, at least 32 Taliban insurgents were killed, including three commanders and 40 wounded during an attack on a military base in Sangin district during the past four days, provincial governor's office said in a statement.[5] On 11 February, Helmand governor Hayatullah Hayat said at least 60 Taliban insurgents were killed at night in security operations backed foreign air forces, which caused civilians casualties.[9] Later, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said that US airstrikes in Sangin occurred on 9 and 10 February and initial inquiries suggest that the airstrikes killed at least 18 civilians, nearly all women and children.[10]

Fall of the town[edit]

The area around Sangin had been a hotspot of Taliban activity for several years, and the district itself had seen more British and American marines killed than any other district in Afghanistan.[11] After enduring repeated insurgent attacks, the government forces tasked with defending the town reportedly withdrew overnight, enabling the Taliban to take control early in the morning of 23 March.[12]


Since the town lies on a key road into Lashkar Gar, the loss of Sangin has been interpreted as a major setback for the Afghan government, potentially paving the way for further Taliban advances in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.[13] Colonel Richard Kemp, who previously commanded British forces in Afghanistan, said that British and American troops "should have remained in Afghanistan in much greater numbers to see them through the very dangerous transition period for longer".[14] Immediately after the withdrawal in March, Sangin police chief Mohammad Rasoul had stated that security forces were preparing "reinforcements to recapture the district", although no significant reported action has taken place.[4] In April 2017, a deployment of 300 US Marines began arriving in the region, at Camp Shorabak (formerly Camp Bastion), in a non-combative support role for the ANA 215th Corps, including "following them onto the battlefield".[15]


  1. ^ "Taliban Governor among 12 killed in S. Afghan province". Afghan Online Press. 14 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Afghan Taliban signal growing strength by capturing key Sangin district". Hindustan Times. 23 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Taliban 'special forces' lead Helmand assault: Afghan officials". Reuters. 14 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Afghan Taliban seize key district where UK lost 104 soldiers | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b "32 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Sangin Clash". Tolonews. 2 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Afghan forces withdraw from key district in embattled Helmand province". The Washington Post. 23 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Taliban overtakes Sangin district in Helmand province, Afghanistan". UPI. 23 March 2017.
  8. ^ "19 militants killed, 25 injured in Sangin battle". Pajhwok News. 31 January 2017.
  9. ^ "60 Taliban killed in Sangin airstrike, says governor". Pajhwok News. 11 February 2017.
  10. ^ "A U.S. airstrike may have killed 18 civilians, 'nearly all women and children,' UN report says". Los Angeles Times. 13 February 2017.
  11. ^ "Taliban Take an Afghan District, Sangin, That Many Marines Died to Keep". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  12. ^ Azami, Dawood. "Why Sangin's fall to the Taliban matters". BBC News. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Fall of Sangin - Newspaper". Dawn.com. 25 February 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  14. ^ Raf Sanchez (23 March 2017). "Russia 'may be helping supply Taliban', says US general, as militants capture strategic district of Sangin". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  15. ^ "'It feels like Groundhog Day': US Marines return to Helmand province". The Guardian. 30 April 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.