The Taliban have captured a third capital in Afghanistan in as many days as the group continues to make aggressive and significant gains following the US military withdrawal.
Taliban insurgents seized the town of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan on Sunday. Kunduz is the third provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in three days, but it is the first major city taken since the Taliban launched an aggressive military offensive in May.
The loss of Kunduz is a brutal development for the Afghan government due to its significant military and political contributions.
The Taliban succeeded in taking Sheberghan and Zaranj, capitals of the country’s northern and eastern provinces, The New York Times reported. A fourth city, Sar-e-Pul, was also set to fall on Sunday.
“The Taliban are marching through the streets of the city. The residents are terrified,” said Sayed Asadullah Danish, a member of the Sar-e-Pul provincial council.
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In April, President Biden extended the deadline set by former President Donald Trump for a military withdrawal from May to September 11. The withdrawal began in May and by early July the situation deteriorated rapidly: The Taliban following the withdrawal.
Two weeks later, the Pentagon said the pullout was about 95 percent complete while admitting that the Taliban appeared to have “strategic momentum.”
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last week blamed the “sudden” US decision to withdraw troops from the rapid collapse of security in the country.
Taliban forces continue to fight security forces in Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province. The Defense Ministry confirmed carrying out airstrikes on targeted Taliban positions, killing 54 fighters and injuring 23 others, German publication DW reported.
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Carl Bildt, co-host of the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank and former Swedish Prime Minister, tweeted that the situation in Afghanistan was “Saigon 1975 once again”.
Ambassador Ghulam M. Isaczai, Afghanistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, said the ongoing violence was “too painful to watch.”
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“Afghan children are the most affected by this violence unleashed by the Taliban against Afghanistan. The world cannot stand on the sidelines of yet another tragedy, ”he wrote on Twitter.
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