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Taliban seizes two extra provincial capitals in northern blitz

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Kunduz and Sar-e-Pul within the north fell inside hours of one another Sunday, lawmakers and residents within the cities confirmed, however not with out fierce combating.

The Taliban captured two extra provincial capitals Sunday as they gained floor of their battle to take over Afghanistan’s cities after seizing a lot of the countryside in latest months.

The insurgents have snatched up 4 provincial capitals since Friday in a fast offensive that seems to have overwhelmed authorities forces.

Kunduz and Sar-e-Pul within the north fell inside hours of one another Sunday, lawmakers and residents within the cities confirmed, however not with out fierce combating.

A Kunduz resident described town as being enveloped in “total chaos”.

“After some fierce fighting, the mujahideen, with the grace of God, captured the capital of Kunduz,” the Taliban mentioned in an announcement.

“The mujahideen also captured Sar-e-Pul city, the government buildings and all the installations there.”

Parwina Azimi, a girls’s rights activist in Sar-e-Pul, advised AFP by telephone that authorities officers and the remaining forces had retreated to a barracks about three kilometres (two miles) from town.

“A plane came… but could not (land),” she mentioned.

Kunduz, nonetheless, is probably the most vital Taliban acquire because the insurgents launched an offensive in May as overseas forces started the ultimate levels of their withdrawal.

It has been a perennial goal for the Taliban, who briefly overran town in 2015 and once more in 2016 however by no means managed to carry it for lengthy.

The ministry of defence mentioned authorities forces had been combating to retake key installations.

“The commando forces have launched a clearing operation. Some areas, including the national radio and TV buildings, have been cleared of the terrorist Taliban,” it mentioned in an announcement.

Kabul’s lack of ability to carry the north could show essential to the federal government’s long-term survival.

Northern Afghanistan has lengthy been thought-about an anti-Taliban stronghold that noticed a number of the stiffest resistance to militant rule within the Nineteen Nineties.

The area continues to be residence to a number of militias and can be a fertile recruiting floor for the nation’s armed forces.

U.S. air strikes

On Friday the Taliban seized their first provincial capital, Zaranj in southwestern Nimroz on the border with Iran, and adopted it up a day later by taking Sheberghan in northern Jawzjan province the next day.

Fighting was additionally reported on the outskirts of Herat within the west, and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar within the south.

The tempo of Taliban advances has caught authorities forces flatfooted, however they’d some respite late Saturday after U.S. warplanes bombed Taliban positions in Sheberghan.

“US forces have conducted several air strikes in defence of our Afghan partners in recent days,” Major Nicole Ferrara, a Central Command spokesperson, advised AFP in Washington.

Sheberghan is the stronghold of infamous Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, whose militiamen and authorities forces had been reported to have retreated to the airport.

Dostum has overseen one of many largest militias within the north and garnered a fearsome popularity combating the Taliban within the Nineteen Nineties — together with accusations his forces massacred hundreds of rebel prisoners of warfare.

Any retreat of his fighters would dent the federal government’s latest hopes that militia teams may assist bolster the nation’s overstretched army.

The authorities has mentioned little in regards to the fall of the provincial capitals, aside from vowing they might be retaken.

That has been a well-recognized response to most Taliban features of latest weeks, though authorities forces have largely did not make good on guarantees to retake dozens of districts and border posts.

The withdrawal of overseas forces is because of be full on the finish of this month, forward of the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 assaults on the United States that sparked the invasion which toppled the Taliban.

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