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Taliban now controls 2/3 of Afghanistan; may take capital soon say reports

Taliban Insurgents (ResoluteSupportMedia/Flickr)
August 11, 2021

After capturing six Afghan provincial capitals over the weekend, the Taliban have seized an additional three capitals and now control two-thirds of Afghanistan, according to officials who spoke with the Associated Press on Wednesday.

A U.S. intelligence report cited by Reuters indicates the Afghan national capital of Kabul could fall within the next 90 days, amid the rapid Taliban territorial gains.

As of Wednesday, the Taliban controls the capitals of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan and Baghlan provinces to Afghanistan’s northeast and the capital of the Farah province in the west, bringing the total of Taliban-controlled Afghan provincial capitals to nine. The Associated Press reported, “Taliban fighters carrying M-16 rifles and driving Humvees and Ford pickup trucks donated by the Americans rolled through the streets” of Farah.

Reuters shared footage from Badakhshan after Taliban fighters took the province’s capital city of Faizabad.

On July 21, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the Taliban controlled 213 of Afghanistan’s 419 district centers but none of the country’s 34 provincial capitals. In the span of a week, the Taliban went from controlling a single provincial capital to controlling nine.

Radio Free Europe’s Gandhara news service, which serves Afghanistan and Pakistan, tweeted an interactive map of the territory the Taliban has captured or currently contests since U.S. forces began withdrawing from the country on May 1.

“The #Taliban has captured dozens of districts from Afghan government forces since the start of the international military withdrawal on May 1. Follow the latest with our interactive map of the militants’ control in #Afghanistan,” the Ghandara news service tweeted.

One Twitter user shared footage purporting to show Taliban fighters driving in Afghan military humvees. They tweeted, “After Kunduz, a series of surrenders began in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan. Afghan forces are surrendering to the Taliban, including tanks, Humvees, and their vehicles and weapons. #Afghanistan #Talibans.”

Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member in Kunduz, and lawmaker Shah Khan Sherzad told the Associated Press that the Taliban also overran the headquarters of the Afghan National Army (ANA’s) 217th Corps, stationed at Kunduz airport.

The 217th Corps is one of seven organized by the ANA, and its defeat represents a significant setback for the Afghan government.

Tariq Ghazniwal, a writer for the Taliban-operated Alemarah news service tweeted, “Hundreds of Kabul regime’s soldiers from Kunduz airport surrendered to the #Taliban.”

Following the fall of the Kunduz airport, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) analyst Joseph Dempsey also tweeted a video purporting to show a Taliban militant inspecting a captured Mi-35 helicopter, an export version of the Russian Mi-24 Hind helicopter used as a gunship and troop transport..

“Video reportingly shows #Taliban captured Kunduz airport with #Afghanistan Air Force Mi-35 Hind attack helicopter,” Dempsey wrote.

Tariq Ghazniwal, a writer for the Taliban-operated Alemarah news service tweeted, “Hundreds of Kabul regime’s soldiers from Kunduz airport surrendered to the #Taliban.”

Another Afghan journalist, Naseeb Zadran, tweeted, “#Kunduz Today dozens of other soldiers surrendered to Taliban from Kunduz airport with their tanks and weapons.