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The Taliban seize another provincial capital in Afghanistan and are already targeting a key city

The Taliban seized Aibak on Monday, sixth provincial capital Afghanistan to fall into their hands and now they are targeting Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in this part of the country.

“The Taliban captured the city of Aibak and they control it completely “Sefatullah Samangani, deputy governor of the province of Samangan (north), of which Aibak is the capital, told AFP.

According to this source, the governor agreed to a request from notable people in the city to withdraw your forces and prevent the inhabitants from being impacted by the fighting.

A Taliban spokesperson confirmed the taking of the city.

With Aibak, the insurgents already control five provincial capitals in northern Afghanistan, including Kunduz, a strategic point between Kabul and Tajikistan that was seized on Sunday after weeks of siege.

They also took Zaranj, capital of the province of Nimroz, in the southwest.

Thousands of people fled the north, and many arrived in Kabul on Monday, after a grueling 10-hour drive by car, during which they had to cross many Taliban checkpoints.

“They beat and loot”said Rahima, who is now camping with hundreds of people in a park in the capital after fleeing Sheberghan province.

“If there is a young woman or a widow in a family, they take them by force. We fled to protect our honor. “

Advances

On Monday, the insurgents claimed they were advancing towards Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in the north and key to government control of the area, and that they had penetrated inside, a fact denied by authorities and residents contacted by AFP.

Local leader Atta Mohammad Noor advocated fighting to the end, vowing to resist “to the last drop of blood.”

Kunduz had fallen on Sunday, the second city in the north, with 300,000 inhabitants, which was already conquered in 2015 and 2016 by the insurgents.

The taking of Kunduz constitutes the main military success of the Taliban since the beginning, in May, of the offensive they launched after the withdrawal of international troops, which should be completed by August 31.

“The enemy is heading towards Mazar-i-Sharif, but happily the seat belts (surrounding the city) they are solid and the enemy was repulsed“Mirwais Stanikzai, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said in a message to the press.

At the end of June, the Taliban conquered the border crossing of Shir Khan Bandar, south of Tajikistan, a nerve center for economic relations with Central Asia.

The Defense Ministry assured that government troops They try to regain control of key areas of Kunduz. “The commandos launched a clean-up operation,” said a ministry source.

The importance of Kunduz

“Kunduz’s recovery is really important andthat he is going to release large numbers of Taliban fighters that they could be mobilized to other parts of the north “of the country, Ibraheem Thurial Bahiss, a consultant with the International Crisis Group (ICG), told AFP.

On Saturday, the Taliban took control of Sibargan, further north of Sar-e-Pul, the fiefdom of the famous war chief Abdul Rashid Dostom.

Mirwais Stanikzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, assured that reinforcements were sent a Sar-e-Pul y Sibargan.

The inability of the authorities in Kabul to maintain control in the north could be fatal for the government’s chances of survival.

Northern Afghanistan has always been regarded as a place of opposition to the Taliban. It was there that they encountered the greatest resistance when they came to power in the 1990s.

The Taliban ruled between 1996 and 2001, imposing their ultra-orthodox version of Islamic law, before being ousted by the US-led international coalition.

Source: AFP

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