Afghanistan’s second largest city falls under Taliban | free press

The Taliban are waging their biggest conquest yet: the country’s second-largest city, Kandahar. After the fall of Herat and Gasni on Thursday, the government has little left.

Kabul (dpa) – The militant Islamist Taliban continue their dramatic territorial gains. On Friday evening, they captured Afghanistan’s second largest city, Kandahar, in the south of the country.

This was confirmed by two parliamentarians and a provincial council of the German news agency. This means that the 13th city will fall into the hands of the Islamists within a week. Of the major cities, the government only owns the capital Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif to the north and Jalalabad to the east – Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand, is also on the brink of a takeover.

Kandahar has more than 650,000 inhabitants. The capital of the province of the same name is the economic center of the south and was the birthplace of the Taliban movement in the 1990s. Kandahar also served as the Islamic capital during their rule between 1996 and 2001.

The rise of the Taliban

Gul Ahmad Kamin, MP, who represents the province in parliament, said there had been serious clashes between the government and the Taliban in Kandahar for more than three weeks before security forces evacuated the city. The government forces eventually abandoned key government agencies and took refuge in the province’s 205th Army Corps.

With the collapse of the city of Kandahar, the Taliban captured 13 capitals in the country’s 34 provinces within a week. On Thursday alone, they were able to capture three cities – including the third-largest city of Herat and the strategically important city of Gasni, which is just 150 kilometers from Kabul. Representatives of the Afghan government have not yet responded to the tumultuous events.

US response

Given the advance, US forces will immediately transfer some 3,000 additional soldiers to the airport in Kabul. This is intended to support an orderly reduction in US embassy staff, a spokesman for the US Department of Defense said. In addition, the US will move up to 4,000 additional soldiers to Kuwait and 1,000 to Qatar – if reinforcements are needed.

The withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan should be completed by August 31, the spokesman said Thursday (local time). Britain also plans to send an additional 600 soldiers to help repatriate the British from Afghanistan. Most recently, US President Joe Biden said at the White House on Thursday that Afghans must now “fight for their own state.”

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