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Three extra main cities are underneath Taliban management, as the federal government’s forces close to collapse.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Three main cities in western and southern Afghanistan have been confirmed on Friday to have fallen to the Taliban, because the insurgents’ race to take management of the nation accelerated.

The Taliban seized Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, on Friday morning after a weekslong battle that left components of town in ruins, hospitals stuffed with the wounded and dying, and residents asking what would come subsequent underneath their new rulers. Hours earlier, the insurgents had captured Herat, a cultural hub within the west, and Kandahar, the nation’s second-largest metropolis, the place the Taliban first proclaimed their so-called emirate within the Nineties.

The pace of the cities’ collapse, mixed with American officers’ announcement Thursday that they might evacuate many of the United States Embassy, has deepened the sense of panic throughout the nation as 1000’s attempt to flee from the Taliban advance.

Solely three main Afghan cities — the capital, Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif — stay underneath authorities management, and one is underneath siege by the Taliban. With the collapse of each Lashkar Gah and Kandahar, the Taliban now successfully management southern Afghanistan, a robust image of their resurgence, simply weeks earlier than the US is about to fully withdraw from the nation.

Over the previous week, the Taliban have taken one Afghan metropolis after one other in a speedy offensive that has left them effectively positioned to assault Kabul. The federal government’s forces seem shut to a whole collapse. Some American officers worry that the Afghan authorities is not going to final one other month.

On Friday, the Taliban additionally seized Pul-e-Alam, the provincial capital of Logar Province, south of Kabul, and Firoz Koh, the provincial capital of Ghor Province, in central Afghanistan.

“Sporadic clashes occurred final evening, however no severe resistance was reported,” stated Gul Zaman Naeb, a member of Parliament representing Ghor Province. “When the individuals awakened this morning, they noticed Taliban fighters within the streets and authorities places of work.”

Helmand Province is a unstable swath of territory, a lot of which the Taliban have managed since 2015. In current months, the Afghan authorities has struggled to carry floor there, and up to date airstrikes within the area by the US and Afghan air forces didn’t cease the Taliban offensive.

Lashkar Gah, Helmand’s capital, has been getting ready to catastrophe for greater than a decade. Helmand has lengthy been dwelling to the Taliban, who unfold to the province after the group’s rise in neighboring Kandahar in 1994 and proceeded to make hundreds of thousands there off the illicit sale of opium poppies.

The autumn of Lashkar Gah is a tragic coda for the American and British navy missions in Helmand that, mixed, lasted over a decade. Each nations targeted a lot of their efforts on securing the province, dropping lots of of troops to roadside bombs and brutal gunfights there.

Kandahar, particularly, is a large prize for the Taliban. It’s the financial hub of southern Afghanistan, and it was the birthplace of the insurgency within the Nineties, serving because the militants’ capital for a part of their five-year rule. By seizing town, the Taliban can successfully proclaim a return to energy, if not full management.

On Friday, officers from Uruzgan and Zabul, two provinces lengthy thought of a part of the Taliban’s heartland, stated that native elders in each have been negotiating a whole handover of the territory to the rebel group.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, and Sharif Hassan from Kabul.

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