Kandahar falls, Taliban on way to Kabul: In the last 24 hours, the country’s second and third largest cities — Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south — have fallen as the capital of South Helmand Province, where American, British and NATO forces fought. Bloody wars of conflict.
The Taliban on Friday completed four more provincial capitals in a lightning strike that gradually encircled Kabul, just weeks before the U.S. officially ended its two-decade war.
In the last 24 hours, the country’s second and third largest cities — Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south — have fallen as the capital of South Helmand province, where some US, British, and NATO forces have fought. Bloody wars of conflict.
The ambush by the Taliban’s southern heartland means that the rebels now control half of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals and control more than two-thirds of the country.
The capital, the Western-backed government in Kabul, still includes the central and eastern provinces, as well as the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Although Kabul is not under direct threat, the resurgent Taliban are fighting government forces in Logar province, about 80 kilometers from the capital. The U.S. military estimates that Kabul will be under insurgency pressure in 30 days and that the Taliban could overtake the rest of the country in a few months. They have already conquered the northern and western parts of the country.
Some American diplomats and thousands of Afghans were ambushed to mobilize 3,000 fresh troops in a temporary expansion to speed up evacuation aircraft. The Pentagon is moving another 4,500 to 5,000 troops to bases in the Gulf states of Qatar and Kuwait, to expedite visa processing for Afghan translators, including 1,000, and others fearing retaliation from the Taliban for past work with Americans and their families.
India, Germany, Qatar, Turkey, and many other countries have reiterated that they have not recognized any government imposed by military force in Afghanistan and called for an immediate cessation of violence and attacks in the war-torn country.
In a statement issued by Qatar on Friday after two special meetings on Afghanistan in Doha, the participating countries agreed that there was an “urgent need” to expedite the Afghan peace process.