Taliban seizes Herat, Ghazni as battle for Kandahar rages on

The Taliban is now in charge of Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest metropolis and a strategic provincial capital within the nation’s west, hours after it seized Ghazni, whereas “intense fighting” rages between the armed fighters and authorities forces in Kandahar metropolis.

Herat’s fall on Thursday marked the largest prize but for the Taliban, who’ve taken 11 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals as a part of a weeklong blitz, leaving the capital Kabul more and more remoted.

It additional squeezed the nation’s embattled authorities simply weeks earlier than the US-led overseas forces full their withdrawal after 20 years.

Witnesses in Herat described listening to sporadic gunfire at one authorities constructing whereas the remainder of the town fell silent underneath the Taliban’s management.

Afghan lawmaker Semin Barekzai acknowledged the town’s fall, saying that some officers there had escaped. Witnesses described seeing Taliban fighters once-detained at Herat’s jail now freely shifting on the streets.

The seize of Ghazni, in the meantime, reduce off a vital freeway linking the Afghan capital with the nation’s southern provinces, which equally discovered themselves underneath assault as a part of a push some 20 years after US and NATO troops invaded and deposed the Taliban authorities.

While Kabul itself was circuitously underneath risk but, the losses and the battles elsewhere additional tightened the grip of a resurgent Taliban, who had been estimated to now maintain greater than two-thirds of the nation and are persevering with to strain authorities forces in a number of different provincial capitals.

Diplomacy

Meanwhile, Taliban and Afghan negotiators met within the Qatari capital Doha for the third day however not settlement was reached. Peace talks up to now stay stalled regardless of US efforts to deliver the 2 sides to comply with a political settlement.

The Taliban navy offensive that started in May has displaced tens of 1000’s, with individuals fearing the return of Taliban, whose six-year rule was marked by atrocities towards ethnic minorities and lack of girls’s rights.

Afghan safety forces and the West-backed Kabul authorities haven’t responded to repeated questions from journalists throughout the days of combating, as an alternative issuing video communiques that downplay the Taliban advance.

On Thursday, a high authorities supply informed Al Jazeera that the Afghanistan authorities has made a power-sharing proposal to the Taliban in alternate for a halt within the escalating violence within the nation.

The supply informed Al Jazeera that the provide was introduced to the Taliban not directly by means of Qatar, which hosts the Taliban’s political workplace and the persevering with Afghan peace talks.

However, the presidential palace in Kabul didn’t affirm the event.

Fighting in Kandahar

Earlier on Thursday, the Taliban’s seize of Ghazni, simply 130km (80 miles) southwest of Kabul and situated alongside the Kabul-Kandahar Highway – might complicate resupply and motion for presidency forces, in addition to squeeze the capital from the south.

In southern Afghanistan, the Taliban’s heartland, heavy combating continued in Lashkar Gah, the place surrounded authorities forces hoped to carry onto the capital of Helmand province.

In neighbouring Kandahar, the Taliban attacked a jail within the capital metropolis and freed inmates inside on Wednesday evening, officers mentioned.

On Thursday, Kandahar provincial governor spokesman Bahir Ahmadi acknowledged that the Taliban had entered the capital, additionally referred to as Kandahar, however mentioned Afghan forces had been combating to push them again.

Even as diplomats met in Doha on Thursday, the success of the Taliban offensive referred to as into query whether or not they would ever rejoin long-stalled peace talks geared toward shifting Afghanistan in the direction of an administration that features members of the present Afghan authorities and the Taliban.

Instead, the group might come to energy by drive – or the nation might splinter into factional combating because it did after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

Call for UNSC dialogue

The US, which signed an settlement with the Taliban on February 29, 2020, has mentioned that it will not recognise any authorities that got here to energy by means of drive.

The authorities’s High Council for National Reconciliation referred to as for peace talks to renew, saying it had submitted a plan to Qatar, with out elaborating.

Amid the deteriorating safety state of affairs, Abdullah Abdullah, Afghan authorities’s chief negotiator, on Thursday referred to as for an “extraordinary and immediate session” of the UN Security Council to debate the developments in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon mentioned on Thursday it will ship about 3,000 extra US troops quickly to Afghanistan to assist safe the drawdown of US embassy personnel on the embassy in Kabul.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby mentioned the primary deployment would happen within the subsequent 24 and 48 hours.

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