A prominent anti-Taliban commander said in Afghanistan that he supported efforts by Afghan forces to regain control of parts of Western Afghanistan, including a border crossing with Iran. Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, speaking at a Security Conference led by President Ashraf Ghani, said he was proud of the government forces and that they had strengthened resistance to Taliban. Two weeks ago, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan as the US sought to complete its troop withdrawal from a costly war of two decades.
The Taliban took Afghanistan in a stunning defeat in a short period of time, despite the fact that the US and NATO have spent hundreds of billions of dollars building up Afghan security forces over two decades. On Sunday, Kabul’s fall to the Taliban followed weeks of fighting between insurgents and Afghan forces in the country and was the fastest since U.S. troops withdrew this summer. The Taliban stormed all of Afghanistan, seizing major cities within days, while the security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.
The Taliban completed their lightning advance in Afghanistan, taking control of the country’s capital and guaranteeing what some feared would be a national takeover. After nearly two decades of U.S. military presence in the country during the war, the Taliban reached the gates of the capital Kabul on Sunday, took over the capital and settled in the presidential palace without much resistance.
Taliban fighters take control of the Afghan Presidential Palace as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flees the country in Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, 15 August 2021. The Taliban began to form a government in Afghanistan, took control of the capital Kabul, declared war on Afghan troops and surrendered to President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country. On Sunday, Afghanistan’s embattled President Ashraf Ghani fled his country as the Taliban entered the capital and American troops evacuated thousands of U.S. diplomats and Afghans from the Embassy in Kabul.
Taliban fighters were ordered to show humility and not hurt civilians or property when they entered and took up positions in the capital occupied by police and Afghan security forces in Kabul. Afghan officials said that the Taliban had taken control of the capital, Maidan Wardak, Khost, Kapisa and Parwan provinces as well as the last government-held border posts. The demoralised Afghan security forces offered no resistance when Taliban fighters appeared on the outskirts of Kabul on Sunday morning.
Torghundi, a northern town located on the border with Turkmenistan, has been captured by the Taliban, officials said on Tuesday. In the last three weeks, as the Taliban advanced its front lines into urban areas, the US military has conducted airstrikes in Afghanistan to buy Afghan security forces time to defend themselves against the siege of major cities. According to various Afghan military and government sources, many military outposts surrendered in the same time without fighting, enabling the Taliban to take up arms.
The Taliban, ethnic Pashtun fighters who emerged from the chaos of the civil war in 1994, seized control of 14 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals on August 6. The group has advanced in recent weeks into much of northern Afghanistan, where the Afghan government holds more than half of the provincial capitals and is reinforced and supplied with supplies from the air.
Government officials confirmed that Kandahar, an economic hub in the south, is now under Taliban control after US-led international troops completed their withdrawal from the 20-year war. Local Afghan officials said Taliban fighters encouraged by the withdrawal of NATO troops seized a key district in the province of Herat where tens of thousands of Shiite minority Hazara live. Much of the territory captured by the Taliban has seen little fighting, thanks to the psychological operations of the groups against the Afghan military, senior government officials and the Afghan population.
For years, US and Afghan forces have focused on controlling key supply chains in major cities across the country and driving the Taliban out of the country’s rugged hinterland.
US-trained Afghan forces appeared to be collapsing in the face of a concerted Taliban push. As helicopters evacuated Americans from Kabul, the Taliban closed in, in a scene likened to the fall of Saigon in 1975 after the US withdrawal from Vietnam. Afghan security forces beat the Taliban, who had fled much of the country, with air support from the U.S. military.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, deputy Taliban commander and Chief Negotiator in peace negotiations between the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar, last year expressed surprise that the country had come under Taliban control. Thousands of Afghans have fled the country in the hope of fleeing, but they now fear Taliban rule will be brought back.
The Taliban has promised to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for attacks on other countries – a key US requirement that could be recorded in a 2020 peace agreement. But China is preparing to recognize the Taliban when it takes control of the country. Last week, the UN envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, declared that the United States would not recognize a Taliban government that came to power by force.
Since the beginning of the withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have gained ground at an astonishing rate. The group seized half of the 34 provincial capitals of the country, including the capital and the second-largest city, and now controls two-thirds of the country.
Taliban insurgents seized Afghanistan’s second-largest city on Friday, local officials said, as resistance to government forces crumbled amid fears of a growing attack on Kabul days earlier. A Taliban fighter shows containers full of weapons and military equipment seized by the Afghan military after American troops withdrew from the country as militants marched through the country. Taliban said late Friday that they had taken control of 85 percent of Afghanistan territory, a statement that government officials dismissed as part of a propaganda campaign.