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The Taliban claim to have taken Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second city

The Taliban claimed this Friday having conquered Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan, leaving the government in control of the capital Kabul and a handful of other territories.

“Kandahar is completely conquered”said a Taliban spokesman on an official Twitter account. A resident confirmed the capture to AFP, noting that government forces withdrew en masse to a military installation on the outskirts of the city.

In addition, the Taliban on Thursday took Afghanistan’s third city, Herat, and another city 150 km from Kabul, continuing its blazing offensive before which the United States announced the deployment of 3,000 soldiers to evacuate its diplomatic personnel.

After weeks of siege, demoralized Afghan troops cedited Herat to the insurgents, which in just one week have taken over a third of the 34 provincial capitals of the country.

Hours earlier they had lost Ghazni, the provincial capital closest to Kabul taken so far and the link between the capital and Kandahar, the second Afghan city, also under siege.

In the last week, the government has lost almost all of North, South and East Afghanistan, keeping control of the capital and a handful of cities, many of them at risk.

Sign of the disaster, United States and United Kingdom announced the deployment of soldiers to quickly evacuate its diplomatic personnel in the capital.

The Pentagon indicated that 3,000 soldiers They will be deployed to Kabul in the next 24-48 hours, insisting that they will not attack the Taliban, while the British government announced the temporary dispatch of 600 soldiers.

“We are going to reduce our civilian presence in Kabul given the evolving security situation, “said US diplomatic spokesman Ned Price.

Large city in western Afghanistan, near the Iranian border, Herat fell under the control of the Taliban.

“We had to leave the city to avoid further destruction.”a security source told AFP, explaining that they had withdrawn to a nearby military base.


An insurgent spokesman assured that “the soldiers surrendered their weapons and joined the mujahideen” and that “dozens of military vehicles, weapons and ammunition “ fell into his hands.

The Taliban “raised their flags all over the city,” Masoom Jan, a resident, told AFP. “We really are afraid, it took us by surpriseWe haven’t even leave town, “he added.

In recent weeks, Herat had been the scene of intense fighting between insurgents and army, backed by the militias of Ismail Khan, a well-known local warlord.

The Interior Ministry had reported before the fall of Ghazni and the arrest by the armed forces of its governor, amid unsubstantiated accusations that he had turned the city over to the Taliban.

A security force told AFP that Qala-i-Naw, capital of Badghis province (northwest), whose authorities had signed a truce with insurgents in July, also capitulated.

The government proposed to “the Taliban a distribution of power in exchange for the end of the violence, “one of its negotiators told AFP in Doha, where the peace talks between the government and insurgents are continuing, which began in September 2020.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, rejected so far the idea of ​​a government that includes the Taliban.

And at this point, the insurgents, who previously welcomed the idea, might reject it as their offensive has advanced at a dizzying pace in this days.

In just one week, took control of 12 of the 34 provincial capitals Afghan and surround the largest city in the north, Mazar-i-Sharif.

Too they besiege Lashkar Gah, capital of the Helmand region, both in the south and considered traditional fiefdoms of the Taliban for months.

With the taking of Ghazni, the insurgents can cut off land supply lines of the army between Kabul and Kandahar and increase the pressure on the Afghan air force, forced to transport material and reinforcements by air.

In Lashkar Gah, a security source acknowledged to AFP that pose withdraw to a nearby US base. And in Kandahar, the Taliban claimed Wednesday they had seized the jail and released “hundreds of prisoners.”

The retreat

Since May, when the final withdrawal of foreign troops began, the Taliban launched a quick offensive against government forces, which hardly put up any resistance.

The clashes have a terrible cost on the civilian population. In one month, at least 183 civilians, including children, were killed in Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, Herat (west) and Kunduz, and about 360,000 people fled from their homes since early 2021, according to the UN.

Many civilians have arrived in Kabul in recent days, where, still traumatized by the atrocities committed by the Taliban before their eyes, they try to survive in refugee camps.

International troops will complete their departure from Afghanistan later this month, twenty years after the start of his intervention to expel the Taliban from power, after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States.

The North American leaders they did not hide their frustration in recent days in the face of the weakness shown by the Afghan army, which the United States has been training, financing and equipping for years.

For its part, the EU threatened the Taliban with an international “isolation” if they take power “by force” and asked for an “immediate” cessation of violence.

Source: AFP



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