Afghan Taliban claim control of Jalalabad
Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has claimed that the armed group has captured the city of Jalalabad in the eastern province of Nangarhar. It was the only major city controlled by the government outside the country’s capital, Kabul.
The Taliban say they have seized the governor’s house, intelligence, police headquarters and all other high-ranking officials’ buildings in Dzhalal-Abad. The official claim could not be confirmed, but Ahmad Wali, a resident of Dzhalal-Abad, told AFP: “When we woke up in the morning, the white flags of the Taliban were flying all over the city. They entered the city without a fight. Dzhalal-Abad is located about 150 km east of Kabul. The capture of Dzhalal-Abad would mean that the Taliban have also seized the highways that connect the country to Pakistan.
The Taliban have also taken control of the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. First soldiers of the army surrendered and then militias loyal to the government, said MP Abas Ebrahimsada from the province of Balkh to the AP news agency. The Bundeswehr had its headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh, until June.
Balkh is the second largest province in Afghanistan and Mazar-i-Sharif is the fourth largest city in the country. Ebrahimsada said all the provincial government buildings as well as the governor’s office are under the control of the Taliban. The insurgents had previously attacked the city from several sides.
21 of 34 provincial capitals fall to the Taliban
Since the decision to withdraw international troops, including the Bundeswehr , the Taliban have conquered large parts of the country. 21 of the 34 provincial capitals are now under their control, while government forces have lost control of most of the north and west of Afghanistan. The Taliban want to establish an “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, as it did before the US troops marched in in 2001.
Nationwide, the fighting continued in at least five provinces on Saturday. The Taliban were able to take over two small provincial capitals: Sharana in the province of Paktika with an estimated 66,000 inhabitants was handed over to the Taliban without a fight, local authorities confirmed. A little later, several local officials confirmed that government officials and security forces had also left Asadabad, the capital of Kunar Province in the east of the country with an estimated 40,000 inhabitants. They wanted to prevent civilian casualties and destruction.
Previously, Herat and Kandahar , the third and second largest cities in the country, had fallen to the Islamists. With Pul-i Alam in Logar province, the Taliban have also captured a provincial capital around 70 kilometers south of Kabul.
Joe Biden consults with security team
US President Joe Biden started consultations with his national security team in view of the crisis. A video conference discussed ongoing efforts to “reduce the civilian presence in Afghanistan,” wrote the White House on Twitter. Vice President Kamala Harris was also present at the meeting.
The US military announced on Thursday that it would transfer around 3,000 soldiers to Kabul Airport as reinforcements. They are intended to help reduce the number of staff at the US embassies. Around 5,000 more soldiers are also stationed in the Middle East to stand by as possible reinforcements.
Despite the crisis, Biden defended the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. “Another year or five more years of US military presence would have made no difference if the Afghan military cannot or does not want to hold its own country,” the president said in a statement. An endless American presence in the middle of a civil war in another country was not acceptable to him.
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