The Taliban Seizes Three Major Afghan Cities
The “Taliban” has captured the key city of Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan, a day after the group claimed control over Kandahar and Herat, the country’s second and third largest cities.
According to officials, today, Friday, “The Taliban have captured Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city, which represents the biggest setback for the US-backed government since the Movement launched a new offensive upon the withdrawal of US forces.
"The Taliban took control of Kandahar city after violent clashes late last night," a local government official told Reuters after declaring control of the city.
It is noteworthy that the government forces still control Kandahar airport, which was the second-largest base for the US military in Afghanistan.
In a related context, an Afghan security source announced that the Taliban Movement today also took control of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, after allowing the army, political, and administrative officials to leave the city.
"Lashkar Gah has been evacuated and they have decided a 48-hour ceasefire to evacuate the army and civilian officials," a senior security official told AFP. The Taliban had announced earlier that it had captured the city.
On Thursday, the Taliban militants took control of Herat, to the west, the third-largest Afghan city, and stood at 150 km away from Kabul after capturing Ghazni, southwest of the capital.
Within eight days, the Movement controlled about the capitals of half of the Afghan provinces. It now controls the greater part of the north, west, and south of the country. Only three major cities remain under the government's authority: the capital, Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in the north, and Jalalabad.
As the events accelerated, Washington announced Thursday night that deploying 3,000 soldiers at Kabul International Airport to help evacuate US diplomats and citizens. London also announced sending 600 soldiers for the same goal.
It is worth mentioning that the frequency of confrontations between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants has escalated, coinciding with the start of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces in early May, which is scheduled to be completed by next September 11.