Taliban Reportedly Captures Strategic Junction Just 225 km North of Kabul - Video
19:08 GMT 10.08.2021 (Updated: 19:28 GMT 10.08.2021)
Over half-a-dozen provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban in recent days amid the continued disintegration of resistance by the Afghan army. The militants began their advance against government forces in April, after the US and its NATO allies started to withdraw from the war-torn country after over 19 years of war.
The Taliban* has captured Puli Khumri, a key city situated along an important strategic junction linking Kabul to areas to the capital’s north and west, government officials have confirmed.
“Puli Khumri fell to the Taliban, they are everywhere,” one official told The Guardian.
The militant group is said to have broken through the front lines in several directions on Tuesday afternoon, with government security forces and officials abandoning the city and its environs, including the local police headquarters. “We are deciding where to retreat now,” the unnamed official said.
Unverified footage circulating online appears to show the Islamist militants celebrating after entering the city, chanting “Allah Akbar.”
Puli Khumri is the capital of Baghlan province, and is the eighth provincial center to fall to the Taliban in less than a week’s time.
Earlier Tuesday, Afghani media outlet TOLOnews reported that the attack on Puli Khumri had been pushed back, with Baghlan province governor maintaining that the Taliban had “retreated after suffering heavy casualties.”
Despite enjoying overwhelming superiority in numbers, equipment and training, Afghan government forces have proven unable to stop the Taliban advance into urban areas, with their elite special operations commandos stretched thin amid militant advances across the country as regular army formations disintegrate and scatter.
Earlier Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stressed that President Biden continues to believe that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is “not inevitable,” and that the Afghan army “has the equipment, numbers and training to fight back” and “strengthen their position at the negotiating table.”
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby lamented that there was “not much” the US can do with air support alone if local forces on the ground didn’t get their act together.
The Taliban began a series of offensives across Afghanistan in April after the Biden administration and the US’s coalition allies announced that they would complete their withdrawal from the war-torn country by the end of fall.
The instability and fighting caused by the rapid withdrawal has prompted Afghanistan’s neighbours to beef up border security, and in the case of its Central Asian neighbours Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to carry out joint drills with Russian forces to send a signal to the Taliban not to try to allow for unrest to spread beyond the country’s borders. The Taliban has sent several delegations abroad in recent months, with emissaries promising not to advance beyond Afghanistan’s borders, and vowing not to allow internationally-recognized terrorist groups to operate in areas under its control. Only time will tell if the militants will live up to their commitments.
* Classified a terrorist group in Russia.