Taliban seizes provincial capitals and lays siege to Afghan cities

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Afghanistan updates

The Taliban have captured two provincial capitals and descended on a number of others throughout Afghanistan, making important advances of their marketing campaign for management of the nation because the US and UK warn their residents to go away.

The Taliban on Friday captured its first native capital, Zaranj within the nation’s southwestern Nimroz province, with none strong resistance and despatched Afghan officers and armed forces fleeing into neighbouring Iran.

This weekend, the insurgents additionally over-ran Sheberghan, the capital of northern Jowzjan province, a strategic and symbolic achieve. Jowzjan is the stronghold of Abdul Rashid Dostum, a strong anti-Taliban warlord who till final yr served as vice-president to Ashraf Ghani.

Different provincial capitals, together with Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Kunduz, are underneath siege. The Taliban, who’ve already swept by way of giant swaths of the countryside, are focusing on a number of strategic cities following the Biden administration’s resolution to tug out remaining US forces by the top of this month.

Analysts warn that the escalating violence might lead to a protracted civil conflict, impending break-up of the nation or the Taliban overrunning the nationwide capital Kabul.

The Islamist group on Friday assassinated Dawa Khan Menapal, head of the federal government’s media centre, within the capital and in addition claimed accountability for a lethal assault final week that focused the defence minister, who was not current. 

Whereas some officers denied Sheberghan had fully fallen to the Taliban, a number of sources confirmed the insurgents had gained management of the town and far of the province. After a number of days of clashes, the Taliban reportedly used water canals to breach the town’s defensive traces within the lifeless of the evening.

One native businessman informed the Monetary Instances that there was now “no resistance” and social media movies reportedly confirmed Taliban forces inside Dostum’s palace.

US forces have carried out air strikes in a bid to discourage the Taliban and enhance the morale of Afghan nationwide safety forces, however an American defence official stated the strikes amounted to solely “a handful” every day.

The US embassy in Kabul on Saturday stated US residents ought to depart Afghanistan “instantly”. “The order for Americans to go away is a sign of the deteriorating safety state of affairs,” the US defence official informed the Monetary Instances.

The UK Overseas Workplace has additionally up to date its journey recommendation to induce all residents to go away the nation.

Joe Biden ordered the drawdown of US troops to convey America’s longest-running conflict to a detailed, upholding a deal the Trump administration struck with Taliban.

Each presidents took the choice in opposition to the recommendation of some US army officers, who warned pulling out troops risked emboldening the Taliban and damaging fragile beneficial properties in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration has been making a last-ditch effort to safe a negotiated political settlement that will give the Taliban a task within the authorities relatively than pursue its benefit on the battlefield, however to little impact.

“These Taliban actions to forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its declare to help a negotiated settlement within the Doha peace course of,” the US stated.

The Taliban got here to energy in Afghanistan within the late Nineteen Nineties. They had been deposed by a US invasion in response to the 9/11 assaults, which had been performed by al-Qaeda, a jihadi group that established ties to the Islamist Taliban militancy.

On Friday, Deborah Lyons, the UN particular consultant for Afghanistan, stated no less than 104 civilians had been killed and 403 wounded in Lashkar Gah since late July.

Civilians within the metropolis are trapped within the close-range fight between the Taliban and besieged Afghan forces, with heavy bombardment from US and Afghan air forces including to the hazard.