Taliban approach capital’s outskirts, attack northern city – News Vibe24

    Taliban approach capital's outskirts, attack northern city - Times of India
    The Taliban captured two more provinces on Saturday and approached the outskirts of the Afghan capital, while also launching a multi-level offensive in a large northern city defended by former warlords, Afghan officials said.
    Insurgents have occupied much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan in a spectacular offensive less than three weeks before the United States withdrew its last troops, raising fears of a full-scale occupation of militants or another civil war in Afghanistan.
    The Taliban have taken over the entire Logar province, south of the capital, Kabul, and arrested local officials, said Honda Ahmadi, a provincial lawmaker. He said the Taliban had reached the Char Asyab area, just 11 kilometers (7 miles) south of Kabul.
    The rebels also seized the capital, Paktika, which borders Pakistan, according to Khalid Assad, a provincial lawmaker. He said fighting broke out in Sarana early Saturday, but ended after local elders intervened to negotiate a withdrawal. He said the governor and other officials had surrendered and gone to Kabul.
    Meanwhile, the Taliban attacked the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif from various directions, starting fierce fighting on its outskirts, according to Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman for the provincial governor. There was no immediate information on casualties.
    The Taliban have made significant progress in recent days, including occupying Herat and Kandahar, the country’s second and third largest cities. They now control 19 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, leaving the Western-backed government in control of a number of provinces in the center and east, as well as Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.
    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a televised speech on Saturday, his first public appearance since the recent Taliban gains, in which he vowed not to give up the “achievements” of 20 years since the US overthrew the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks. .
    The United States has continued to hold peace talks between the government and the Taliban in Qatar this week, and the international community has warned that a forcibly formed Taliban government will not be accepted. But the guerrillas seem to have little interest in making concessions as they gain victories on the battlefield.
    “We have started consultations, within the government, with elders and political leaders, representatives of different levels of the community, as well as our international allies,” Ghani said. “Soon the results will be shared with you,” he added, without elaborating further.
    The president had flown to Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday to gather the city’s defenses, meeting with several militia commanders, including Abdul Rashid Dostum and Ata Mohammad Noor, who command thousands of fighters.
    They remain allies with the government, but during previous rounds of fighting in Afghanistan, the warlords were known to have changed sides in order to survive. Ismail Khan, a powerful former warlord who had tried to defend Herat, was captured by the Taliban when rebels seized the western city after two weeks of fierce fighting.
    Mazar-e-Sharif residents feared security breach.
    “The situation is dangerous outside the city and inside the city,” Mohibullah Khan said, adding that many residents also face financial problems.
    “The security situation in the city is deteriorating,” said Kawa Basharat. “I want peace and stability. “The fighting must stop.”
    The withdrawal of foreign forces and the rapid withdrawal of Afghan troops themselves – despite hundreds of billions of dollars in US aid over the years – have raised fears that the Taliban will return to power or the country could be disbanded by factions, as it did. after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
    The first Marines from a group of 3,000 arrived on Friday to help partially evacuate the US embassy. The rest are due to arrive by Sunday and their development has raised questions about whether management will meet the August 31st departure deadline.
    The U.S. Air Force has carried out several airstrikes to help its Afghan allies on the ground, but seems to have done little to stop the Taliban’s advance. A B-52 bomber and other warplanes crossed the country’s airspace on Saturday, according to flight monitoring data.
    The Taliban, meanwhile, released a video announcing the capture of a central radio station in the southern city of Kandahar, which fell to rebels earlier this week, renaming it the Voice of Sharia, or Islamic law.
    In the video, an anonymous rebel said all workers were present and would broadcast news, political analysis and recitations of the Koran, the Islamic holy book. It seems that the station will no longer play music.
    It was unclear whether the Taliban had cleared the former officials or allowed them to return to work. Most Kandahar residents wear the traditional dress preferred by the Taliban. The man in the video congratulated the people of Kandahar on the victory of the Taliban.
    The Taliban have used mobile radio stations all these years, but have not operated a station in a major city since they ruled the country from 1996-2001. At the time, they were also running a station called Sharia Voice outside Kandahar, the militant group’s birthplace. Music was banned.
    The United States invaded shortly after the 9/11 attacks, which were planned and carried out by al-Qaeda and were protected by the Taliban. After the rapid ousting of the Taliban, the United States turned to nation-building, hoping to create a modern Afghan state after decades of war and unrest.
    Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced a timetable for the withdrawal of all US troops by the end of August, pledging to end America’s longest-running war. His predecessor, President Donald Trump, had reached an agreement with the Taliban to pave the way for US withdrawal.
    Biden’s announcement launched the latest attack. The Taliban, which has long controlled large parts of the Afghan countryside, moved quickly to seize provincial capitals, borders and other key infrastructure.
    Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes, with many fearing a return to oppressive Taliban rule. The group had previously ruled Afghanistan under a harsh version of Islamic law, in which women were largely confined to the home.

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