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An Afghan National Army soldier fires an artillery shell in an anti-Taliban campaign in Farah province. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi / AFP / Getty Images

Insurgents have gained ground in Afghanistan over the last few months, according to an update from Navy Capt. Tom Gresback that comes as Kabul has been shaken by a series of deadly attacks.

By the numbers: Afghanistan’s government controls about 56% of the country’s 407 districts, while 30% are contested and 14% controlled by insurgents. As of a November update the Afghan government controlled 64% and insurgents 10%. Gresback's update came as a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report was released.

Context:

  • The U.S. has more than 14,000 troops in Afghanistan in war's 16th year.
  • The number of Taliban forces in Afghanistan has increased from 20,000 in 2014 to about 60,000 this year, NBC News reports, citing U.S. officials. The U.S. does not release numbers on how many Taliban are in the country.
  • Trump factor: Trump's Afghanistan strategy doesn't appear to have dramatically changed the tide of the 16-year-old war, though a U.S. official told NBC News’ Courtney Kube there is "no indication at all that the Taliban are growing or strengthening."

1 reversal: The Pentagon briefly issued an order that prevented SIGAR from sharing this information with the public, but reversed that order, blaming “human error.” Information about the size, attrition and performance of the Afghan forces are still unavailable, per the AP.

Go deeper: Trump’s plan in Afghanistan

Go deeper

35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

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