Officials said that the Taliban took control over two additional provincial capitals in Afghanistan Monday. This was the latest in a series of Taliban attacks that lasted for weeks. The US and NATO forces are now completing their withdrawal from the war-torn nation.
After capturing large swathes of land in rural Afghanistan, the militants have intensified their push across Afghanistan. They seized five of the 34 provincial capitals in Afghanistan on Monday. They have also been conducting an assassination campaign against Kabul’s top government officials.
Despite international condemnation and warnings by the United Nations, the sweep was carried out despite the fact that the Taliban had won a military victory. They have not responded to appeals for them to negotiate with the Afghan government and resume long-stalled peace negotiations.
Hayatullah Samangani (left) and Mahboba Rahmat (right), both from northern Samangan province, said that Aybak was the provincial capital. The Taliban retreated peacefully on Monday. They claimed that government officials fled to another area.
Mohammad Hashim Sarwari, a provincial council member, said that Taliban fighters had previously captured three districts in the province prior to overthrowing the capital.
Ziauddin Zia from Samangan was another provincial lawmaker. He said that some government facilities were still under control because security forces had resisted Taliban fighters.
Mohammad Noor Rahmani (the council chief for northern Sar-e Pul Province), said that the Taliban took over the provincial capital following over a week’s resistance by Afghan security forces. The city of Sar-e Pul was then destroyed. He said that the government forces had now completely fled the province.
Rahmani said that several pro-government militia commanders surrendered to Taliban without fighting, which allowed the insurgents control over the entire province.
Aybak and Sar-e Pul are joined by three other provincial capitals, now completely under Taliban control: Zaranj (the capital of western Nimroz), Sheberghan (the capital of northern Zawzjan), and Taleqan (the capital of another northern province of the same name).
The Taliban are also fighting for control over Kunduz, which is the capital of northern Kunduz Province. They planted their flag on Sunday in the city’s main square. It was then seen flying atop a traffic booth, as The Associated Press captured.
The Taliban would gain a lot from Kunduz’s capture and it would also be a test of their ability take over and hold territory during their campaign against the Western-backed government. It is home to more than 340,000 people and is one of the largest cities in the country. This area was key for Western troops’ defense against Taliban takeovers over the years.
Many are puzzled by the bizarre Taliban blitz, which has now threatened and taken several of the country’s 34 provincial capitals. This despite billions of dollars being spent on aid, training, and shoring-up Afghan forces.
Rahmani, Sar-e Pul’s council chief, stated that the provincial capital was under siege for several weeks by militants, but no reinforcements were sent to the exhausted Afghan forces. On Monday, a video circulated on social media showing a group of Taliban fighters standing in front the Sar-e Pul governor’s offices and congratulating one another for their victory.
As NATO and the U.S. troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan, the country’s Taliban offensive grew. As Taliban attacks increased, Afghan security forces and government troops responded with airstrikes that were aided in part by the United States. There are growing concerns about civilian casualties from the fighting.
UNICEF expressed shock Monday at the rising number of children killed in the violence in Afghanistan. It stated that at least 27 children were killed in different provinces over the past three days, including 20 in Kandahar.
The agency stated that the atrocities were also proof of the violence in Afghanistan, which preys upon already vulnerable children. The agency did not name the perpetrators of the massacre. UNICEF raised alarm about what it called an increase in recruitment of children by armed organizations.
The Taliban also took most of Lashkar Gah (the capital of southern Helmand Province), where they took nine out of the ten police districts. There is still heavy fighting in the area. Also, U.S.-Afghan government airstrikes continue, with one of them causing damage to a hospital and a high school.
Sher Ali Shakir, chief of Helmand’s health department, stated Monday that seven people had been killed in fighting in Helmand and that 95 others were injured in the fighting. They were then transferred to local hospitals.
The Taliban released an English-language statement Sunday as they made their way through provincial capitals. It stated that residents, government workers, and security officers had nothing to fear.
In areas under Taliban control, however, there have been reports of revenge attacks and the repression of women.
In the meantime, hundreds of people have been displaced in fighting in northern provinces and are now in Kabul. They live in parks with no water access in scorching summer heat.
Bibi Ruqia said that she walked in slippers and didn’t get to wear her shoes after the bomb attack on her home in northern Takhar. “We had no choice but to flee, and now we are in a park.”
Unknown gunmen killed a journalist and colleague in Kabul on Sunday. Ferdaws Faramarz, a police spokesperson, confirmed the incident. According to him, Toofan Omar was also a Paktia provincial prosecutor. Omar was on his way from Bagram to Kabul, when his car was attacked.
Faramarz stated that it wasn’t clear if the death was the result of a personal conflict or if he was killed because he was a journalist or prosecutor.
The Taliban responded to a query by The Associated Press and said that they were investigating the incident.
The Taliban target government officials, as well as those they believe are working for the government or foreign troops. However, the Islamic State group has claimed several attacks.