Taliban attack key city: Fighting has erupted in a major Afghan city amid fears that it could become the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban.
Lashkar Gah in the southern province of Helmand has been hit hard by the military, despite ongoing US and Afghan air strikes.
The Taliban have reportedly seized a television station. Thousands of people fleeing rural areas took refuge in buildings.
“There is fighting all around,” a doctor told the media at his hospital.
Hundreds of troops have been sent to Afghanistan to fight the militants. The Taliban have developed rapidly in recent months as U.S. forces withdrew after 20 years of military service in the country.
Helmand has been at the heart of the US and British military campaign, and the Taliban gain will be a problem for the Afghan government.
If Lashkar Gah fell, it would be the first provincial capital conquered by the Taliban since 2016.
The commander of the Afghan army in the city has warned that the Taliban victory would have a “negative impact on world security”.
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“This is not a war in Afghanistan, it is a war between freedom and dictatorship,” Maj Gen Sami Sadaat told the Media.
On Monday, Afghanistan’s media department announced that 11 radio stations and four television networks in Helmand province had stopped broadcasting because of what they described as the Taliban “attacks and threats”.
Efforts by the military to capture Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, have continued after rocket strikes stormed the airport on Sunday.
Taking control of Kandahar would be a symbolic victory for the Taliban, giving them a hold on the south of the country.
In the third besieged city, Herat, in the west, government commandos fought rebels after days of heavy fighting. Government troops have reclaimed some areas after an attack on a UN compound on Friday.
Videos shared on social media have been shown showing residents on the streets and on the roof of Herat shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) in support of the government’s achievements.
While government forces are struggling to hold back the development of the Taliban, President Ashraf Ghani has blamed the sudden withdrawal of American troops from the escalation of the war.
“The reason for our current situation is that this decision was taken suddenly,” he told Parliament.
Mr Ghani said he had warned Washington that the withdrawal would have “consequences”.
Although almost all of its military forces are gone, the US has continued its air strikes in support of government troops. Strikes against Lashkar Gah continued late Monday.
President Biden’s administration announced on Monday that due to the escalation of violence, it would take thousands of Afghan refugees working with US troops.
The United States and the UK have accused the Taliban of making war crimes “by killing civilians” in a captured city near the Pakistani border.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had seen reports of “very serious and totally unacceptable” violence in the Taliban.
Bad videos from Spin Boldak apparently show revenge. The Taliban have dismissed the allegations.