FIVE Afghan cities have fallen to the Taliban in the last three days, as the US prepares to remove troops.
THE TALIBAN is said to have taken control of five provincial capitals in Afghanistan, just weeks before the United States withdraws all of its soldiers from the country after a 20-year struggle.
In recent weeks, fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces has resurfaced in Afghanistan. Insurgents are said to have taken control of five provincial capitals in the last few days, while fighting continues in numerous other cities.
On Sunday, the Taliban reportedly took control of Kunduz, Sar-e-Pul, and Taloqan in northern Afghanistan.
Many people evacuated Kunduz over the weekend in the hope of reaching Kabul, which is under government control.
Zaranj, on the border with Iran in Afghanistan’s southern Nimroz province, was also taken over by the Taliban this weekend.
Sheberghan is also said to have been taken by the Taliban.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have ravaged Afghanistan’s rural areas, focusing on big cities such as Kandahar and Herat.
Security officials told Reuters that significant battle was taking place on the outskirts of Herat, near the western border with Iran.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office told Al-Jazeera TV that the Afghan government and the Taliban have reached no agreement on a ceasefire, and warned against additional US action in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan soldiers launched a counter-offensive on Monday to retake Kunduz from Taliban fighters.
Allies, particularly the United Kingdom, supported the decision to remove US forces from Afghanistan by the end of August.
The agreement reached between the US and the Taliban last year, according to British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, was a “rotten deal.”
Mr Wallace claimed that the government had requested several NATO members to remain their troops in Afghanistan after the US soldiers left, but that the request had been turned down due to a lack of support.
“Some claimed they were interested, but their legislatures weren’t,” he explained.
“It became clear quite soon that these choices were cut off without the United States as the framework nation.”
The retreat at this moment, according to General Sir Richard Barrons of BBC Radio 4, is a “strategic error.”
“I don’t believe it’s in our own interest – in making that decision to withdraw, I feel we’ve not only sold Afghanistan’s future into a very tough place, but we’ve also sent a really awful message to the West’s allies in the Gulf, Africa, and Asia,” General Barrons said.
He went on to say that it indicates that “we don’t have the stomach to see.” Brinkwire Summary News