Kunduz, a large city in northern Afghanistan, and Sar-e-Pul, in the northwest, fell to the Taliban on Sunday morning, becoming the third and fourth provincial capitals seized by insurgents in three days.
This is the most important advance in the Taliban’s military offensive launched last May, when foreign forces present in Afghanistan began to withdraw from the country.
“After fierce fighting, the Mujahideen, by the grace of God, today captured the capital of the province of Kunduz”the Taliban announced in a statement.
“Kunduz fell. The Taliban have taken control of all the key buildings in the city, “said an AFP correspondent from that city, located 300 km north of the capital Kabul and 50 km from the border with Tajikistan.
In Sar-e-Pul, “The Taliban surrounded an army battalion on the outskirts of the city” and “all other parts of the city are under Taliban control,” said Mohamad Hussein Mujahidzada, a council member for the province of the same name.
Insurgents already seized the city of Sibargan (northwest), capital of Jawzjan province, on Saturday, a day after taking control of Zaranj (southwest), capital of Nimroz province, near the border with Iran. .
In the last three months, taking advantage of the withdrawal of foreign troops, the Taliban controlled huge rural areas, and now focus their offensive in the big cities.
Back to the past
Many Afghans live in fear of the specter of a return to power for the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 by imposing a harsh Islamic regime, before being ousted by an international coalition led by the United States.
Foreign troops have been in Afghanistan for almost two decades, following the invasion led by Washington following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The agreement signed in February 2020 in Doha by the Taliban with the United States, which provided for the withdrawal of all foreign soldiers from Afghanistan, prevented – theoretically at least – insurgents from carrying out attacks in large Afghan cities.
But now, given the advances of the insurgents in the big cities, the United States, which will complete its exit from Afghanistan at the end of August, has intensified its air attacks.
“US forces have deployed several air strikes in recent days to defend our Afghan partners”Said Commander Nicole Ferrara, spokeswoman for the Army’s Central Command.
This week, shortly before starting to take over the provincial capitals, the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the assassination of the Afghan government’s communication chief, having warned that they would carry out operations against senior officials in response to the intensification of the bombings.
On Wednesday, the insurgents vowed to carry out new “retaliatory” operations against senior government officials after attacking the residence of Defense Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi.
The minister was unhurt, but eight people died.
The rapid Taliban offensive has raised international concern. This week during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, the UN emissary in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, urged the Taliban to “stop” these “attacks on cities.”
In addition, Lyons asked the Council to issue an “unequivocal” warning.
Meanwhile, the British government asked all its citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country immediately due to the worsening security situation ”.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.