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Taliban seize fifth Afghan provincial capital since Friday

CNN —  

The Taliban have seized town of Taloquan in northeastern Afghanistan, marking the fifth provincial capital to fall beneath their management in only a matter of days, a neighborhood journalist confirmed to CNN on Monday.

Taloquan, the capital of Takhar Province, is simply the newest in a string of victories that come as international forces, led by the USA, full their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The velocity of the militants’ beneficial properties, which embrace the foremost metropolis of Kunduz, has compounded issues in regards to the civilian toll. No less than 27 youngsters have been killed and 136 injured over the previous 72 hours in Afghanistan, the United Nations Youngsters’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) stated in a press release Monday. UNICEF stated the majority of the casualties had been in Kandahar province, the place fierce preventing between Taliban forces and the Afghan military continues.

“These atrocities are proof of the brutal nature and scale of violence in Afghanistan which preys on already susceptible youngsters,” UNICEF stated, including that there are stories that youngsters are “more and more, being recruited into the battle by armed teams.”

5 provincial capitals seized

On Friday, the primary provincial capital, Zaranj, close to the Iranian border, fell to the Taliban. The following, Sherberghan, close to the Turkmenistan border, fell on Saturday.

The insurgents then seized Kunduz, a strategically essential provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, on Sunday – making it the primary main metropolis to fall to the Taliban because it started its offensive in Could. With a inhabitants of 375,000, Kunduz is a major army prize.

Afghans inspect damaged shops after fighting between Taliban and Afghan security forces in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan, Sunday, August 8, 2021.
Abdullah Sahil/AP
Afghans examine broken outlets after preventing between Taliban and Afghan safety forces in Kunduz metropolis, northern Afghanistan, Sunday, August 8, 2021.

Additionally on Sunday, Taliban forces largely overran the provincial capital metropolis of Sar-e-Pul within the nation’s north.

Prior to now week, the US has elevated airstrikes towards Taliban positions in a bid to halt their advances. The Taliban has accused the US of bombing a hospital and a highschool, together with different civilian targets in Helmand Province. CNN couldn’t independently confirm their claims.

“US forces have performed a number of airstrikes in protection of our Afghan companions in latest days,” Maj. Nicole Ferrara, a US Central Command spokesperson, informed CNN on Sunday, sidestepping a query in regards to the targets of the strikes.

A senior Afghan safety official stated that though issues had been altering quickly on the battlefield, US air assist of Afghanistan’s army forces was nonetheless scheduled to cease on the finish of this month, when the US withdrawal is full. The official stated that there had been no change in US coverage regardless of the quick Taliban advance on the bottom.

“We want shut air assist,” the Afghan official informed CNN over the weekend. “Issues are getting nasty.”

US CentCom commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie publicly acknowledged in July that the US will cease its air assist to Afghan forces – and certain undertake solely restricted counter-terrorism strikes – as soon as the withdrawal is over. All international forces are anticipated to depart Afghanistan by August 31.

On Sunday night, Muhammad Naeem Wardak, the spokesman for the Taliban’s political bureau, warned the US towards additional intervention in Afghanistan.

There isn’t a ceasefire settlement with the Afghan authorities on the horizon because the Taliban continues its army beneficial properties, he informed information community Al Jazeera Arabic. He additionally blamed the Afghan authorities for beginning the latest preventing.

“The Afghani authorities is the one who selected to begin the battle in numerous provinces,” Wardak stated. “The measures that (the) Taliban took had been in response and response to the federal government assaults and actions.”

The US Embassy in Kabul has criticized the Taliban’s offensive on Afghan cities, saying on Sunday its actions to “forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its declare to assist a negotiated settlement within the Doha peace course of.”

“They display wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and can worsen this nation’s humanitarian disaster,” stated the embassy.

Final week, Afghan Overseas Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar stated that the latest Taliban offensive had killed greater than 3,000 individuals nationwide and displaced greater than 300,000 in the previous few months.

Some 5,183 casualties had been recorded within the first six months of the 12 months – a 47% enhance from 2020 – the United Nations Help Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) stated in a July report. The report famous that deaths and accidents spiked markedly from Could, when the US and its allies started withdrawing troops.

CNN’s Kara Fox, Nina Avramova and Hannah Ritchie contributed to this report.

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