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Taliban seizes Kunduz, first main Afghan metropolis to fall in vacuum left by US troop withdrawal

CNN —  

The Taliban has seized management of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, native officers instructed CNN on Sunday. It’s the first main metropolis to fall to the rebel group since they started their offensive in Might, and marks an enormous blow to the Afghan authorities.

Kunduz is the third of 4 provincial capitals that the Taliban has captured in current days, a string of victories that come as international forces, led by america, full their withdrawal from Afghanistan. With a inhabitants of 375,000, Kunduz is a major navy prize.

On Sunday, Taliban forces principally overran the provincial capital metropolis of Sar-e-Pul, additionally within the nation’s north, marking one other loss for the federal government amid a sequence of unprecedented advances by the insurgency in its 20-year conflict.

A member of the Sar-e-pul provincial council instructed CNN the town had fallen to the Taliban and that one remaining military base containing Afghan safety forces was surrounded by Taliban fighters.

The Taliban stated in an announcement that they’d taken the town. CNN has been unable to independently confirm the group’s claims.

In Kunduz, the Afghan Protection Ministry stated commandos had taken again management of the town’s Common Raziq Sq. and the headquarters of the Kunduz Nationwide Radio and TV as preventing within the province continues.

Earlier within the day, a member of the Kunduz provincial council confirmed to CNN that many of the provincial capital had fallen to the Taliban.

The Taliban stated that each one elements of the town have been underneath its management, including that it had additionally seized armored autos, weapons and navy tools. CNN couldn’t independently affirm the Taliban’s claims.

Heavy preventing between the Taliban and Afghan safety forces within the metropolis on Saturday killed at the least 11 civilians and wounded 40, in line with Kunduz well being director, Dr. Ehsanullah Fazli.

Provincial council member Gholam Rabani Rabani instructed CNN either side had suffered casualties on Saturday throughout preventing on the outskirts of the town, and that the entire variety of fatalities was nonetheless unclear.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the scenario in Kunduz, a White Home official instructed CNN.

“The President has been briefed and senior officers from the NSC, State, and DOD (Division of Protection) are actively partaking by safe channels with Embassy Kabul to evaluate developments,” the official stated, confirming information first reported by the New York Occasions.

The Taliban briefly captured Kunduz in 2015 and once more in 2016 earlier than being pushed out by Afghan safety forces.

Descent into violence

The town of Zaranj, close to the Iranian border, turned the primary provincial capital to fall into Taliban management on Friday. The next day, the insurgents seized Sheberghan, the provincial capital of Jawzjan, close to the border of Turkmenistan.

The nation’s swift descent into violence following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops supporting the federal government has shocked many. There are fears even the nationwide capital, Kabul, may fall.

The US has ramped up airstrikes in opposition to Taliban positions over the previous week in a bid to halt the insurgents’ advances as its drawdown of troops continues. “US forces have carried out a number of airstrikes in protection of our Afghan companions in current days,” Maj. Nicole Ferrara, a US Central Command spokesperson, instructed CNN Sunday, sidestepping a query concerning the targets of the strikes.

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.

The US Embassy in Kabul criticized the Taliban’s offensive on Afghan cities on Sunday, saying its actions to “forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its declare to help a negotiated settlement within the Doha peace course of. They show wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and can worsen this nation’s humanitarian disaster.”

Assassinations of the Taliban’s critics have occurred alongside the preventing. Scores of social activists, journalists, bureaucrats, judges and public figures preventing to maintain a liberal Islamic administration have been focused and killed by Taliban fighters in a bid to silence voices of dissent within the war-torn nation, Reuters reported.

In Kabul, Taliban attackers on Friday killed Dawa Khan Menapal, director of the Afghan authorities’s media and knowledge heart. On Tuesday, the district governor of Sayed Abad in Maidan Wardak, Amir Mohammad Malikzai, was additionally killed by Taliban fighters in Kabul, authorities officers have instructed CNN.

On Saturday, the US Embassy in Kabul urged Americans to go away the nation “instantly utilizing accessible industrial flight choices.”

“Given the safety circumstances and lowered staffing, the Embassy’s potential to help US residents in Afghanistan is extraordinarily restricted even inside Kabul,” the embassy stated in an announcement.

The UK’s International Workplace up to date its recommendation on Friday, telling its nationals to go away Afghanistan by industrial means.

CNN’s Aaron Pellish, Hannah Ritchie, Clarissa Ward, Brent Swails, Arlette Saenz and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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