Taliban take 10th Afghan provincial capital in blitz as US, NATO forces prepare to withdraw

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban captured a provincial capital close to Kabul on Thursday, the 10th the insurgents have taken over a weeklong blitz throughout Afghanistan as the U.S. and NATO prepare to withdraw fully from the nation after many years of struggle.

The militants raised their white flags imprinted with an Islamic proclamation of religion over the town of Ghazni, simply 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Kabul. Sporadic preventing continued at an intelligence base and a military set up outdoors the town, two native officers instructed The Associated Press.

The Taliban printed movies and pictures on-line exhibiting them in Ghazni, the capital of a province with the identical identify.

Afghan safety forces and the federal government haven’t responded to repeated requests for remark over the times of preventing. However, President Ashraf Ghani is making an attempt to rally a counteroffensive counting on his nation’s particular forces, the militias of warlords and American airpower forward of the U.S. and NATO pullout on the finish of the month.

While the capital of Kabul itself has not been instantly threatened in the advance, the gorgeous pace of the offensive raises questions of how lengthy the Afghan authorities can preserve management of the slivers of the nation it has left. The authorities might finally be compelled to pull again to defend the capital and only a few different cities, as the preventing displaces 1000’s of individuals.

Mohammad Arif Rahmani, a lawmaker from Ghazni, stated the town had fallen to the insurgents. Ghazni provincial council member Amanullah Kamrani additionally instructed the AP that however added that the 2 bases outdoors of the town stay held by authorities forces.

Kamrani alleged that Ghazni’s provincial governor and police chief made a cope with the Taliban to flee after their give up. Taliban video and pictures purported to present the governor’s convoy passing by Taliban fighters unstopped as a part of the deal. The two officers couldn’t be instantly reached for remark.

Militants crowded onto one seized Humvee and drove down one primary street in Ghazni, with the golden dome of a mosque close to the governor’s workplace seen behind them, yelling: “God is great!” The insurgents, cradling their rifles, later gathered at one roundabout for an impromptu speech by a commander. One militant carried a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. They smiled as kids and the curious gathered round them.

The lack of Ghazni marks one more strategic setback for Afghan authorities forces. The metropolis sits alongside the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, a significant street that connects the Afghan capital to the nation’s southern provinces. That might complicate resupply and motion for presidency forces, as effectively as squeeze the capital from the south.

Already, the Taliban’s weeklong blitz has seen the militants seize nine other provincial capitals around the country. Many are in the nation’s northeast nook, pressuring Kabul from that route as effectively.

Angry at pan-Arab satellite tv for pc information community Al-Jazeera for reporting on troops earlier surrendering in Kunduz, Gen. Ajmal Omar Shinwari stated the channel can be investigated by authorities. Al-Jazeera, primarily based in Qatar the place the Taliban has a diplomatic workplace, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Fighting in the meantime raged in Lashkar Gah, one in all Afghanistan’s largest cities in the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, the place surrounded authorities forces hoped to maintain onto that provincial capital.

On Wednesday, a suicide automobile bombing marked the newest wave of violence to goal the capital’s regional police headquarters. By Thursday, the Taliban had taken the constructing, with some law enforcement officials surrendering to the militants and others retreating to the close by governor’s workplace that’s nonetheless held by authorities forces, stated Nasima Niazi, a lawmaker from Helmand.

Niazi stated she believed the Taliban assault killed and wounded safety power members, however she had no casualty breakdown. Another suicide automobile bombing focused the provincial jail, however the authorities nonetheless held it, she stated. The Taliban’s different advances have seen the militants free a whole bunch of its members over the past week, bolstering their ranks whereas seizing American-supplied weapons and autos.

Niazi criticized ongoing airstrikes concentrating on the world, saying civilians possible had been wounded and killed.

“The Taliban used civilian houses to protect themselves, and the government, without paying any attention to civilians, carried out airstrikes,” she stated.

With the Afghan air energy restricted and in disarray, the U.S. Air Force is believed to be finishing up strikes to help Afghan forces. Aviation monitoring information recommended U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers, F-15 fighter jets, drones and different plane had been concerned in the preventing in a single day throughout the nation, in accordance to Australia-based safety agency The Cavell Group.

The U.S. Air Force’s Central Command, primarily based in Qatar, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Thursday.

The success of the Taliban offensive additionally calls into query whether or not they would ever rejoin long-stalled peace talks in Qatar aimed toward shifting Afghanistan towards an inclusive interim administration as the West hoped. Instead, the Taliban might come to energy by power — or the nation might splinter into factional preventing prefer it did after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

In Doha, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met with diplomats from China, Pakistan and Russia in an effort to warn the Taliban they may once more be thought of worldwide pariahs in the event that they proceed their offensive, State Department spokesman Ned Price stated. Khalilzad additionally plans to meet with Afghan authorities and Taliban officers as the preventing goes on with out a signal of it abating.

In Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned the Taliban not to strive to take energy by power and impose a strict interpretation of Islamic regulation that severely limits rights. Maas instructed German public TV ZDF that if the Taliban did so the nation would not obtain “a cent” of growth support from Germany, which is presently estimated to be round 430 million euros ($504 million) yearly.

The a number of battle fronts have stretched the federal government’s particular operations forces — whereas common troops have usually fled the battlefield — and the violence has pushed thousands of civilians to seek safety in the capital.

The newest U.S. navy intelligence evaluation is that Kabul might come beneath rebel stress inside 30 days and that if present tendencies maintain, the Taliban might achieve full management of the nation inside a few months.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.