A new study finds that the Taliban militants are openly active in 70 percent of Afghanistan’s soil, fully controlling four percent of the country and having presence in another 66 percent.
The study released by the BBC on Tuesday shows that the Taliban forces are in full control of 14 Afghan districts (four percent of Afghanistan) and are openly active in 263 (66 percent) others.
The BBC conducted the research in 399 districts across Afghanistan between August 23 and 21 November, using a network of its reporters who spoke to over 1,200 individual local forces across the country.
The research shows that nearly 15 million people – half the population – are living in areas affected by the Taliban presence.
The results are significantly higher than the most recent assessment of 407 districts by the NATO-led coalition, which said on Tuesday that the militant group contested or controlled 44 percent of Afghan districts as of October 2017.
The BBC study said that the Afghan government controlled 122 districts, or about 30 percent of the country, but noted that even those areas are not safe from Taliban attacks.
An Afghan government spokesman has downplayed the BBC findings.
The Pentagon did not directly comment on the BBC study, but pointed to the latest figures by NATO, which shows that nearly 56 percent of Afghanistan’s territory was under Afghan government control or influence.
The BBC study also said Daesh Takfiri terrorists are also active in 30 Afghan districts in the east and the north, but they are not in control of any specific area.