Saturday, September 18

The Taliban control 26 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals as the United States begins evacuating its embassy

The Taliban continue their offensive in Afghanistan with little opposition on the ground, despite orders from the Afghan government to government forces to confront them to halt their march on the capital, Kabul. This Sunday, the insurgent groups have raised to 26 the regional capitals captured in just over a week, with the annexation of Gardiz, Nili and Jalalabad, the fifth largest city in the country. At this time, the Government controls only eight provincial capitals.

“The Taliban entered the city of Jalalabad this morning without fighting and the province was handed over to them without fighting as a result of the mediation of tribal leaders,” explained a senior official from Nangarhar, the province of which it is the capital. The Taliban now control the entire city, the most important in the east of the country, and its districts, while some of their security forces withdrew to head towards Kabul.

Nilli, capital of the central province of Daikundi, also fell to the Taliban tonight without clashes between the national forces and the insurgents. “There were no clashes in Nilli, all security forces and local officials evacuated the city without clashes and the Taliban now have control of the city,” explains the deputy for Daikundi in the lower house of Parliament, Sherin Mohsini.

“I am happy that there has been no fighting that could end the lives of our young people, but it makes me angry that the Government hands over the provinces to the Taliban with such ease and without resistance,” adds the deputy. But he wonders: “If the plan was to hand over the cities to the Taliban, why in the last year did the government send security forces to fight the Taliban and we lost thousands of troops?”

Gardiz, capital of the southeastern province of Paktia, was also captured by the Taliban following the withdrawal of the Afghan security forces, who left the city without offering resistance. “The Taliban are now in control of the city and (it) they are patrolling,” said a member of Parliament representing Paktia in the lower house of Parliament, who requested anonymity.

For his part, the main spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed in a series of messages on Twitter that the cities of Jalalabad, Gardiz and Nilli are under the total control of their fighters.

In the past three and a half months, insurgents have captured 140 district centers and 26 provincial capitals, with only eight already under control of the Afghan government, the largest territorial gain for the Taliban in two decades of war. The fall of these three cities are added to the 23 regional capitals captured in recent days as part of the unstoppable Taliban advance, which after the announcement of the final phase of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops have used to increase violence in the country.

The US deploys 5,000 soldiers to guarantee their evacuation

US President Joe Biden insisted this Saturday on the military withdrawal from Afghanistan because “one more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made any difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not maintain the control of their own country. ” However, Biden has authorized this weekend the deployment of “approximately 5,000” troops to complete the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghans before the Taliban advance. They are 1,000 more than were planned so far.

The US soldiers will also help evacuate thousands of “Afghans who assisted US troops” during the war and who have applied for visas to travel to the US, as well as those US citizens “who are at special risk for the Taliban advance, “he added.

In a statement, Biden has threatened insurgent groups with a “swift and forceful” military response if they attack his staff or his embassy in Afghanistan, fearing they will conquer Kabul.