The Taliban have claimed several quick wins in Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, including the release of prisoners in key towns of Kandahar and Heret, according to reports.
Insurgents moved deeper into Kandahar on Wednesday, with reports Thursday that forces surrounded and attacked the general prison. A message posted on Twitter by Ahmadi, an alleged representative of the Taliban, claimed that prison staff had surrendered and that the Taliban had released all prisoners.
The conquest was the result of “a long siege and violent attacks,” Ahmadi said. Fighting in the city remains fierce as insurgents also attempt to take control of the city itself, Al Jazeera reported.
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The Taliban too claimed control on Herat prison, with all the “Taliban” prisoners released there as well.
The double wins are just the most recent of several victories the Taliban have claimed in an offensive blitz to take control of the country. Ghazni fell on Thursday – the 10th provincial capital the terror group has taken in just a few weeks.
The Taliban have posted videos and images online claiming to show them in Ghazni, the capital of a province of the same name.
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The entire northern part of the country has now fallen under the control of the Taliban. Some officials believe the Taliban have taken control of over 65% of the country.
In April, President Biden extended the deadline set by former President Donald Trump for a US military withdrawal from May to September 11. The withdrawal began in May; in early July, the situation deteriorated rapidly: the Pentagon on July 9 detailed “concerning the advancement” by the Taliban following the withdrawal.
Two weeks later, the Pentagon said the pullout was about 95% complete while admitting the Taliban seemed to have “strategic momentum”.
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Afghan security forces and the government did not respond to repeated requests for comment during the days of fighting. However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is trying to rally a counteroffensive by drawing on his country’s special forces, warlord militias and American air power before the withdrawal of the United States and NATO. at the end of the month.
While the capital of Kabul itself was not directly threatened by the advance, the staggering speed of the offensive raises questions about how long the Afghan government will be able to maintain control of the shreds of the country it left.
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The government could eventually be forced to withdraw to defend the capital and a few other towns, as the fighting displaces thousands of people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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