Taliban is rapidly capturing major cities of Afghanistan, taking over Kandahar, Western embassies send troops to move out Embassy staff.
Taliban in their fierce takeover of Afghanistan took over three major cities on Friday, supposedly taking over the third-largest city of Herat in the west after days of battle, though yet to be confirmed.
Of Afghanistan’s major cities, the Afghan government still holds Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border in the east, in addition to Kabul.
Taliban insurgents gathered on the main road intersection in the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan. The takeover of the second-biggest city of Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west after days of clashes are a crushing shock for the government as the violent Taliban forces ravage cities.
“The city looks like a front line, a ghost town,” provincial council member Ghulam Habib Hashimi said by telephone from Herat, a city of about 600,000 people near the border with Iran. However, the borders to go to Iran too are closed. and he said, “Families have either left or are hiding in their homes.”
A government official told Reuters referring to the southern economic hub of Kandahar, “Following heavy clashes late last night, the Taliban took control.”
A U.S. defense official cited U.S. intelligence as saying this week that the Taliban could capture Kabul within 90 days.
The U.N. World Food Programme stated that food shortages in Afghanistan are”quite dire” and worsening also adding the situation had all the hallmarks of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The Pentagon said it would send about 3,000 extra troops within 48 hours to help evacuate U.S. embassy staff and Britain said it would deploy about 600 troops to help its citizens leave while other embassies and aid groups said they too were getting their people out.
Canada would also deploy special forces troops to Kabul to help in the evacuation of embassy staff, per reports.
The United Nations has warned that a Taliban offensive reaching the capital would have a “catastrophic impact on civilians” but there is little hope for negotiations to end the fighting with the Taliban clearly seeming to take over Afghanistan.
The Taliban also captured the towns of Lashkar Gah in the south and Qala-e-Naw in the northwest, security officers said. Firuz Koh, capital of central Ghor province, was handed over without a fight, officials said.
The insurgents fighting to defeat the government and impose their strict version of Islamic rule, have taken control of 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals since Aug. 6.
In a blow to anti-Taliban forces, the insurgents detained veteran commander Mohammad Ismail Khan after they seized Herat, a provincial official said, adding that they had promised not to harm him and other captured officials.
A Taliban spokesman confirmed that Khan, who had been leading fighters against the Taliban in recent weeks, was in their custody.
Joe Biden said this week he did not regret his decision announcing that Washington has spent more than $1 trillion in America’s longest war and lost thousands of troops.
During the war in Afghanistan (2001–present), over 47,245 civilians, 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan military and police and more than 51,000 Taliban fighters have been killed as of April 2021. Overall the war has killed 171,000 to 174,000 people in Afghanistan. Presently, as the Taliban captures Afghanistan, civilians have also been shot dead, along with Afghan forces.