Taliban capture eighth provincial capital in Afghanistan

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Farah Province sits on the main highway that runs to the western city of Herat, where Taliban fighters have also laid siege….reports Asian Lite News

The Taliban on Tuesday captured the eighth provincial capital in Afghanistan – the city of Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province, which is north of Kabul, overrunning eight provinces in five days.

Local officials said that the Taliban had flooded Farah in western Afghanistan and Pul-i-Khumri in the north, reported The New York Times.

Mohammad Kamin Baghlani, a pro-government militia commander in Baghlan, said that Pul-i-Khumri had fallen on Tuesday and that his forces had retreated to the south.

“All areas of the city fell,” he said. “We were under a lot of pressure, and we were not able to resist anymore.”

Gulbuddin, a police officer in Farah city who like many Afghans goes by one name, said that government officials had fled to an army headquarters several miles outside the city and that the main prison had been breached by Taliban fighters. The streets, he said, were full of freed inmates, reported The New York Times.

The Taliban had been encroaching for some time on Farah city, the capital of the province with the same name, as the western province has been a focal point for the group’s offensive operations in the country’s west for years.

Pul-i-Khumri is on the highway connecting the northern provinces to Kabul, meaning the terrorists need only to turn south and advance to begin putting even more pressure on the country’s capital.

Farah Province sits on the main highway that runs to the western city of Herat, where Taliban fighters have also laid siege. The province also shares a border with Iran; the main border crossing there was seized by the Taliban last month.

Taking Farah and other cities in the area would allow the group to funnel insurgent fighters toward Herat or elsewhere to reinforce other positions, while also limiting Afghan security forces’ ability to relocate to aircraft, which are in short supply because of a lack of maintenance resources and exhausted pilots, reported The New York Times.

The same can be said for Pul-i-Khumri. With the city under Taliban control, along with the key north-south highway that runs through it, the insurgents are dangerously close to completely isolating the north of the country.

Farah and Pul-i-Khumri’s likely fall comes as the Afghan security forces have been fending off attacks in other cities, including in the province of Herat, where fighting has been reported outside the capital, reported The New York Times.

The Taliban are entrenched in Kandahar and Lashkar Gah in the south and outside Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan, the remote Northern Province that was once considered an anti-Taliban stronghold.

It cannot be understated what these losses will inevitably do to the already dwindling morale of the government security forces.

The seizure of now six provincial capitals in the northern provinces in five days has sent thousands of refugees south to seek refuge in Kabul, the country’s capital.

In the last few days alone, the Taliban has captured six provincial capitals, mainly in the north of the country, including Kunduz, Taluqan city, Sheberghan, Zaranj, and Samangan province’s capital Aybak city.

Afghanistan is witnessing a surge in violence as the Taliban has intensified its offensive against Afghan forces and civilians with the complete pullback of foreign forces just a few weeks away. (ANI)

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