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Sangin District - Helmand

Afghan War News> Districts > Sangin

Sangin district, Helmand province is located in the south of Afghanistan; to the west of Kandahar city. It is a volatile district and also a well-known poppy growing area. The British and U.S. Marines have fought long and hard to secure the district from the Taliban, drug traffickers, and local tribesmen since 2006. Prior to 2006 the area was considered to be under the control of the Taliban. Other Coalition forces also were engaged in fighting in the Sangin district to include Estonian and Danish units. 1.

Map of Sangin District Helmand Province Afghanistan
Map Helmand Province - by Wikipedia Creative Commons

Sangin District Center Helmand Province Afghanistan
Map Sangin District, Helmand Province - © Copyright OpenStreetMap contributors

History of Fighting in Sangin District

Siege of Sangin. The British moved into Sangin district in mid-summer 2006. The district was the scene of heavy fighting. The British lost over 100 troops - a third of all their casualties for the entire war - in Helmand province. 2.

2010 - 2011. This district was the scene of heavy fighting in 2010 and 2011. In comparison to the two previous years, 2012 was a lighter year for fighting.

Missed Opportunities. There has been a lot of criticism of ISAF during its time in Helmand. While the bravery of the men that fought cannot be faulted; the leadership has been questioned. The strategy and tactics are questioned as well as missed opportunities to reintegrate Taliban fighters. 3.

Marines in Sangin. The Marines became heavily involved in the fight for Sangin beginning in 2008. Since then the Marines have fought hard battles against the Taliban; especially in 2010 and 2011. The Marines pulled out in May 2014 as part of a larger withdrawal from Afghanistan by U.S. forces. Security of the district was taken over completely by the ANSF.

A District At Risk. Sangin is at risk of being lost to the Taliban. The ANSF have had limited success in maintaining security in the district. During the beginning of the 2013 fighting season a number of checkpoints were lost to the Taliban. The ANSF conducted a number of counterattacks to regain these checkpoints.

2014. The fighting season of 2014 saw heavy action in Sangin District during the months of June and September. The Taliban took control of the district in June 2014. There were numerous reports of senior Afghan officers attempting to negotiate a 'truce' with the Taliban in August 2014.

2015. The year opened with the ANSF conducting a large push in Sangin district. According to some news reports almost 400 Taliban were killed and the district was "secured".

2016. Fighting occurred in the district through much of 2016. In July of 2016 the Taliban overran the district center. Afghan forces - backed by US SOF (advising Afghan SOF) and air support - re-secured the district center and the town.

Websites with Info on Sangin District

Sangin District. By WikipediA.

MEDEVAC from FOB Nolay in Sangin District Helmand Province (Nov 13)
MEDEVAC from FOB Nolay, Sangin District, Helmand Province
(Photo by CPL Austin Long - Nov 13)

Videos of Sangin District, Helmand Province

March 6, 2014. "Marine Advisors Visit Afghan Outposts in Sangin Valley". SFAAT 2-215 visits FOB Robinson. DVIDS. . . . afghan-outposts-sangin-valleyl

May 27, 2013. This Is What Winning Looks Like, a documentary by Ben Anderson, an independent journalist and filmaker, depicting the challenges of a U.S. Marine Police Advisor Team (PAT) in Sangin district, Helmand province during 2012. Posted on by VICE Media, Inc.

August 8, 2013. U.S. Marines in Sangin, Afghanistan covering 2010-2012.

News Reports about Sangin District, Helmand Province

March 27, 2017. "Afghan Retreat From Sangin Shows Need for Political Deal", by Scott Worden, United States Institute for Peace (USIP).

March 23, 2017. "As The Taliban Retakes Sangin in Afghanistan, Veterans Remember Its Dark Legacy". By James Clark, Task and Purpose.

March 23, 2017. "Taliban takes key district in Helmand province", FDD's Long War Journal. Afghan government forces withdrew from the district center under pressure and the Taliban seized the district. Coalition forces launched airstrikes to destroy the abandoned security force bases and government facilties. APCs, pickup trucks, and military equipment was left behind by the ANDSF.

February 8, 2016. "Taliban are close to overrunning Sangin where 106 British soldiers died",The Telegraph.

February 7, 2016."Sangin on verge of falling back into Afghan Taliban hands", BBC News. An Afghan army commander has stated that most of the district has already been taken, the Afghan government now controls just a few square kilometres of Sangin city.

December 22, 2015."Afghanistan Taliban: British Military deployed to Helmand", BBC News.

November 14, 2015."65 soldiers join Taliban in Helmand", Khaama Press. ANA from Sangin district defected to the insurgents with their weapons.

November 13, 2015."Taliban Close to Taking over key Afghan District", by Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times. Three days of heavy fighting have left more than 60 Afghan troops dead. The Taliban now occupy the Sangin district bazaar and have their sights set on the district's main government compound.

September 6, 2014."Taliban Are Nearing Control of Key District". The New York Times.

August 23, 2014. "Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan worst fighting in years".The Washington Post. Government forces control very little terroritory in the district and can barely hold on to the district center.

July 22, 2015."Afghan Security Forces Struggle Just to Maintain Stalemate". By Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times.

June 28, 2014. "Dozens killed as Taliban makes major bid for former Afghan stronghold of Helmand". The Washington Post.

June 25, 2014."Afghan troops battle mass Taliban assault in Helmand". BBC News Asia.

June 24, 2014."Taliban surges in Sangin as Marines withdraw". Navy Times.

May 12, 2014."Into the breach: How Sangin will enter the annals of Marine history". Marine Corps Times.

March 11, 2014."K-Max steps up for Sangin district retrograde". Marine Corps Times.

May 5, 2014."Last Marines leave Sangin, Afghanistan". DVIDS. SFAAT 2-215 departs Forward Operating Bases Nolay and Sabit Qadam, Sangin district.

March 6, 2014."Generals shed light on reports Afghan forces surrended turf in Sangin". Marine Corps Times.

March 4, 2014."Afghans see continued success in Sangin Valley". DVIDS.

January 11, 2014."Afghan war reaches endgame". U-T San Diego. The Afghan brigade commander who worked a truce with the Taliban in Sangin district is now under investigation.

December 18, 2013."Sangin District of Helmand Province Lost to Taliban?". Afghan War News Blog.

December 17, 2013."Afghan Army Gives up District Without a Fight". Commentary Magazine. Reports indicate that the ANA and Taliban are conducting joint patrols.

December 17, 2013."Have Afghan forces intentionally surrendered turf in Sangin to the Taliban?" Marine Corps Times.

December 5, 2013."One team, one objective: ANSF, Marines seeks stability in Sangin". DVIDS.

October 6, 2013."As Afghan Troops Take the Lead, They take More Casualties". NPR Parallels. Article focuses on plight of Afghans at FOB Nolay in Sangin.

September 11, 2013. "Afghan Army Struggles in District Under Siege". The New York Times. Now that the Americans have left Sangin the Afghans are on their own in this contested district.

September 9, 2013. "How to Build an Afghan Army, In a Million Difficult Steps". GPB News. Article on advisory efforts in Sangin district.

July 28, 2013."UK confirms British troops returned to Afghanistan's Sangin district for 8-day operation". Star Tribune.

June 10, 2013. "ANSF winning the fight against the Taliban in Helmand Province's violent Sangin District".

May 30, 2013."General: Taliban probing for weaknesses in Helmand security". The Marine Corps Times Battle Rattle. This blog post reports that the Taliban have been attacking Afghan forces repeatedly at the beginning of the 2013 fighting season.

May 29, 2013. "Department of Defense Briefing with Maj. Gen. Miller from the Pentagon Briefing Room", U.S. Department of Defense transcript. The commander of RC Southwest responds to questions on attacks on Sangin district.

May 24, 2013. "Marines watch fighting as summer arrives in Afghanistan". Marine Corps Times Battle Rattle.

March 21, 2013. "With the Warriors". National Review. Bing West spends time with U.S. Marines at Sangin district.

October 3, 2012."Marine commander: We 'punched them in the throat' in Sangin". Marine Corps Times Battle Rattle Blog. Commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines provides insight into his units seven-month deployment in northern Helmand province.

August 10, 2012."Afghanistan policeman kills 3 American troops in Helmand province".CBS News. the attack took place on FOB Jackson in Sangin district.

April 4, 2012."Afghan forces step up, Marines step back in Helmand province". U.S. Central Command. An advisor team from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment mentors Afghans at FOB Jackson in Sangin district.

May 17, 2012. "Sangin Marines brace for summer of combat". Marine Corps Times.

December 6, 2011. "Female Engagement Teams Patrol in Helmand Province". Leatherneck. A FET patrols in Sangin district.

September 10, 2011. "Marines go hunting - Sangin style". DVIDS.

March 5, 2011. "Marines in Sangin deal with horrors of war". Marine Corps Times.

January 5, 2011. "Bringing Afghans Over to the Coalition Side, One Tribe at a Time". Commentary Magazine. The author of this article, Max Boot, believes that lower-level deals to bring tribes over to the side of the coalition might be fruitful and points to a recent event in Sangin where this has happened.

January 22, 2011. "Marines pay a price trying to secure an Afghan hot spot". Los Angeles Times. 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment fight in Sangin district.

January 4, 2011. "US deal with Afghan tribe promises to reduce Taliban strikes". The Christian Science Monitor. The Alikozai tribal leaders say they were authorized to speak for the Taliban.

January 1, 2011. "Afghan, Coalition leaders broker peace deal in Sangin". DVIDS.

November 26, 2010. "Marines deny killing civilians in Sangin". Army Times.

September 20, 2010."UK troops leave Helmand's Sangin". BBC News UK. Brits end four year long mission in district.

July 7, 2010. "British forces hand Afghanistan's Sangin district to Americans". CNN. In a realignment of forces the U.S. Marines take over Sangin district.

April 10, 2007. "Relief at last for hard-pressed Fusiliers". The Guardian. The article ends with 'But the Taliban's greatest advantage may be time. Many Afghans believe that NATO will leave Afghanistan, just as so many previous foreign armies have done".

April 6, 2007. "Royal Marines in attack on Taliban's 'heart of darkness'" The Guardian. Attack was part of a combined attack by British, U.S. and Canadian forces.

October 13, 2006. "In their minds, all they want to do is kill English soldiers". The Guardian.

July 20, 2006. "Taliban resurgence tests British will". The Boston Globe.

July 17, 2006. "Siege of Sangin crushed". The Scotsman. A British contingent of 200 Soldiers is provided relief by a coordinated effort of international coalition troops.

July 16, 2006. "UK troops take Taleban stronghold". BBC News. The British troops in Afghanistan underook thier biggest operation since the fall of the Taleban in 2001. The fighting was part of Operation Mountain Thrust which was launched in mid-May 2006.





1.  For more information on the British troops and their role in 'The Siege of Sangin" see the link below:

2. For more on the British casualties in Helmand province see "The Five Most Dangerous Places in Afghanistan", Maxim. See also a book by Trevor Coult MC entitled First into Sangin (2015) - the story of the forgotten platoon and band of men who were the first British Soldiers to occupy the House in Sangin District at the start of the Herrick Campaign.

3. For more on "missed opportunities" see "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: How ISAF infighting helped doom Sangin to its ongoing violence", Afghanistan Analysts Network.

4. For more on the early 2015 ANSF offensive in Sangin district read "Afghan Troops Push Taliban from Key Southern District", ABC News, February 27, 2015.

5. See "Afghanistan: Taliban take centre of Helmand district", BBC News, December 20, 2016. After months of fighting the district center falls.


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