Taliban approach Kabul's outskirts, capture Mazar-e-Sharif city - GulfToday

Taliban approach Kabul's outskirts, capture Mazar-e-Sharif city


Taliban fighters patrol the streets in Herat on Saturday. AFP

Gulf Today Report

Taliban fighters have captured three more provinces on Saturday and approached the outskirts of Afghanistan's capital while also launching a multipronged assault on a major northern city defended by former warlords.

The fighters have seized Mazar-e-Sharif, the northern city that was the Afghan government's last northern stronghold, with security forces fleeing to the Uzbekistan border, a provincial lawmaker said on Saturday.

"The Taliban have taken control of Mazar-e-Sharif," Afzal Hadid, head of the Balkh provincial council said, adding that the city appeared to have fallen without a fight. Soldiers abandoned their equipment and headed towards the border crossing, he said.

Another lawmaker from Balkh, Abas Ebrahimzada, said the province’s national army corps surrendered first, which prompted the pro-government militias and other forces to lose morale and give up in the face of the onslaught.

According to the lawmaker, all of the provincial installations, including the governor’s office, are in Taliban hands.

The Taliban have made major advances in recent days, including capturing Herat and Kandahar, the country’s second- and third-largest cities. They now control about 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, leaving the Western-backed government with a smattering of provinces in the center and east, as well as Kabul.

On Saturday, the Taliban captured all of Logar province, just south of the capital, Kabul, and detained local officials, said Hoda Ahmadi, a lawmaker from the province. She said the Taliban have reached the Char Asyab district, just 11 kilometres south of Kabul.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani delivered a televised speech on Saturday, his first public appearance since the recent Taliban gains. He vowed not to give up the "achievements” of the 20 years since the US toppled the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks.

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