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Afghanistan: Why Is Lashkar Gah Important?

 The city is the seat for the Provincial Governor and contains Afghan National Army and Police headquarters and training centres.

Earlier this week, Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, said the increase of violence in his country is due to the rapid withdrawal of western troops.

One area that has seen such violence is Lashkar Gah - the capital of Helmand Province.

But why is the city so important?

With around 200,000 people, Lashkar Gah is a relatively small city but serves as the political centre for Helmand Province.

As well as government buildings, the city is also the seat for the Provincial Governor and his ruling council.

There are also Afghan National Army and Police headquarters and training centres located in the city.

Watch: Afghanistan: What Issues Face The Country Post-Withdrawal?

Lashkar Gah is also important to the opium trade - with supply routes to both Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city, to the east and Iran to the west.

It is perceived that whoever controls the city, controls Helmand.

In 2006, the city became the headquarters for the British deployment to Helmand.

War-fighting was controlled from Main Operating Base Lashkar Gah and the city remains symbolic for veterans of the Afghanistan conflict.

What makes Lashkar Gah so important, both strategically and symbolically, makes it valuable to those who wish to control the country.