Better equipped than 20 years ago when they were ousted from power, the Taliban continue to advance in Afghanistan. In the last hours, take three more provincial capitals, adding 9 out of 34, in a handful of days, it was announced this Wednesday.
Coinciding with the withdrawal of the United States from the country, the fall of the capitals of the provinces of Badakhshan y Baghlan, in the northeast, and from Farah, in the west, it increases pressure on the central government to stop the advance of the insurgents.
Although Kabul has not been directly threatened in this advance, the offensive continues testing Afghan security forces, which now mostly fight the Taliban alone and ill-prepared, despite having had US training and support for two decades.
A senior European Union official said that at least 65% of the Afghan territory it is already controlled by insurgents and the Kabul central executive continues to lose ground.
Neither the government nor the Afghan army immediately responded to requests for comment. However, the president, Ashraf Ghani, He went to the besieged Balkh region on Wednesday seeking the support of two warlords to counter the Taliban advance.
Humayoon Shahidzada, a lawyer for Farah, confirmed the fall of the regional capital to The Associated Press. Hujatullah Kheradmand, a Badakhshan lawmaker, said the Taliban had taken his province. And an official who spoke on condition of anonymity to report an unacknowledged loss noted that the capital of Baghlan also fell.
In Farah, Taliban fighters they dragged the bloody body and barefoot of a member of the security forces on a street shouting “God is great!”.
The sounds of gunfire echoed through the street as insurgents, armed with M-16 rifles and driving Humvees and Ford trucks donated by americans they walked the streets of the city.
The US withdrawal left behind all kinds of supplies including vehicles, although before leaving, they took the trouble not to leave them the keys.
Insurgents had taken six other provincial capitals across the country in less than a week, including Kunduz, in the homonymous region, which is one of the largest cities in the country.
In a conversation with reporters on Tuesday, a senior EU official said the insurgents were occupying about 230 districts of the 400 existing in Afghanistan. According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal data, another 65 were in government hands and the others in dispute.
The northeast of the country has fallen already to the Taliban except for Balkh province, where warlords Rashid Dostum, Atta Mohammad Noor and Mohammad Mohaqiq plan to mobilize their forces in support of Kabul to drive out the insurgents.
Following a 20-year Western military mission and an investment of billions of dollars in training and reinforcing the Afghan security forces, many do not explain their collapse, fleeing from battle, sometimes by the hundreds. The brunt of the fighting has largely fallen on small groups of elite forces and the Afghan air force.
The success of the rapid Taliban offensive has given an urgency to the need to resume the stalled dialogue in Qatar, which could end the fighting and guide the country to the formation of an inclusive interim government. For now, the insurgents have refused to return to the negotiating table.
US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad warned the Taliban on Tuesday that any government that comes to power by force in Afghanistan will not be recognized by the international community.
Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in the north of the country due to the fighting that has ravaged their towns and villages. The families who have arrived in the capital live in parks or on the street with little food or water. They have no other place to be.