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Afghanistan crisis Highlights: Taliban forces take over Herat, country’s third-largest city

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: Earlier today, the Taliban captured a provincial capital near Kabul, the 10th the insurgents have taken over a weeklong blitz across Afghanistan as the US and NATO prepare to withdraw entirely from the country after decades of war.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 13, 2021 7:14:08 am
Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. (AP)

Afghanistan crisis Highlights: The Taliban has taken control of Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city after government forces and administration retreated. According to news agency AFP, Taliban fighters took over the police headquarters in Herat Thursday evening. 

Earlier today, the Taliban captured a provincial capital near Kabul, the 10th the insurgents have taken over a weeklong blitz across Afghanistan as the US and NATO prepare to withdraw entirely from the country after decades of war.

According to the Associated Press, the militants raised their white flags imprinted with an Islamic proclamation of faith over the city of Ghazni, just 130 kilometers southwest of Kabul. Sporadic fighting continued at an intelligence base and an army installation outside the city, two local officials told the news agency.

Meanwhile, a US defense official citing US intelligence has said that the Taliban can isolate Kabul in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90. The official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, said the new assessment of how long Kabul could stand was a result of the Taliban’s rapid gains as US-led foreign forces leave.

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Taliban takes over Ghazni and Herat; Afghanistan offers power sharing deal; Indian Embassy in Kabul issues advisory to citizen.

22:38 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Pak forces clash with Afghan protesters at border crossing shut by Taliban

Pakistani forces clashed on Thursday with hundreds of Afghans stranded on Pakistan's side of a commercially vital border crossing with Afghanistan after its closure by Taliban insurgents, news agency Reuters reported.

The disturbances broke out after a 56-year-old Afghan traveler died of a heart attack as he waited in the dusty heat to enter Afghanistan via the Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing, Arif Kakar, a Pakistani official on the scene, told Reuters. Protesters carried his body to a local Pakistani government office demanding the border be reopened. 

People carry the coffin of a man who died in Afghanistan, as they transport it to Pakistan, at the Friendship Gate crossing point in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan August 12, 2021. (Reuters)


22:30 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Afghanistan: Taliban offensive puts Iran in a bind    

Iran has been beefing up its military presence along its border with Afghanistan since early May when US-led foreign troops began their complete withdrawal from the war-torn nation and the Taliban started an aggressive offensive against Afghan government forces.

Since last weekend, Iranian border guards have been on constant alert as Taliban fighters stand guard on the other side of the border.

The Taliban currently control more than half of Afghanistan's approximately 400 districts and also several provincial capitals. According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, nearly 250,000 Afghans have been internally displaced due to the latest bout of violence.

Many people, including soldiers, have fled toward Iran to seek refuge.

On August 6, the Taliban captured Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz province, which borders Iran. Immediately afterward, an entire convoy of military vehicles carrying Afghan army soldiers fled across the border.

Afghan border guards have also fled to Iran after surrendering their weapons to Iranian border guards. (DW)

22:17 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Taliban enters Kandahar city: report

According to Al Jazeera, the Taliban has entered the city of Kandahar. Residents described the situation in Afghanistan’s second-largest city as “dire”.

22:07 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Visuals from Afghanistan

Visuals from Afghanistan

Taliban fighters patrol inside the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. (AP) 
Taliban fighters gather on the main road intersection in the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan. (Reuters)
Taliban fighters patrol Farah, Afghanistan August 11, 2021. (Reuters)
21:57 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Security advisory issued for Indians in Afghanistan

The Indian Embassy in Kabul has issued a security advisory for its nationals. The advisory draws special attention to Indian media arriving in Afghanistan and requests journalists to take additional security measures.

21:43 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Taliban forces take over Herat: report

According to AFP, Taliban forces have taken control of Herat, Afghanistan's third-largest city after government forces and administration retreated.

20:52 (IST)12 Aug 2021
US Embassy in Kabul urges American citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately    

The United States on Thursday urged American citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options. 

"Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul," a notice on the website of the US Embassy in Kabul said. It also said the embassy can provide a repatriation loan for US citizens who cannot afford at this time to purchase a commercial ticket to the States.  

20:02 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Germany tells its citizens to leave Afghanistan      

Germany urged its citizens on Thursday to leave Afghanistan on scheduled flights as soon as they can due to the deteriorating security situation. "German nationals on the ground are strongly urged to take opportunities to leave the country on scheduled flights as soon as possible," the Foreign Ministry said on its website.

18:41 (IST)12 Aug 2021
US keeping distance as Afghan forces face Taliban rout

Afghan government forces are collapsing even faster than US military leaders thought possible just a few months ago when President Joe Biden ordered a full withdrawal. But there's little appetite at the White House, the Pentagon or among the American public for trying to stop the rout and it probably is too late to do so. Biden has made clear he has no intention of reversing the decision he made last spring, even as the outcome seems to point toward a Taliban takeover. (AP)

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17:37 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Areas under Taliban control

The map shows districts where the Taliban are predominantly in control of security and public services.

17:30 (IST)12 Aug 2021
France suspends deportations to Afghanistan     

France halted expulsions of migrants to Afghanistan in early July because of the worsening security situation there, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry told Reuters on Thursday. The spokeswoman also told the agency that France was closely monitoring the situation with its European partners. 

17:14 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Kabul offers Taliban power-sharing deal to end violence

The Afghan government negotiators in Qatar have offered the Taliban a power-sharing deal in return for an end to fighting in the country, a government source told AFP on Thursday.

17:00 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Closely monitoring development in Afghanistan: MEA

"We are closely monitoring developments, we're concerned about deteriorating security situation. Our Mission in Kabul issued an advisory for Indian nationals earlier this week, advising them to return to India via commercial flights," an MEA spokesperson said during a briefing on Thursday.

"Our Mission in Kabul continues to remain in touch with Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members and we will ensure provision of all necessary assistance to them," he added.

15:36 (IST)12 Aug 2021
US sees Pakistan useful only for clearing mess in Afghanistan: Imran Khan

Taking a dig at the US, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Washington sees Pakistan as "useful" only for clearing the "mess" it has left behind in Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting and prefers India when it comes to forming a "strategic partnership".

"Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one," Khan was quoted as saying by PTI. He also said that since US decided to have a "strategic partnership" with India, Washington was treating Pakistan differently.

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15:31 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Afghan govt raises concerns over Taliban's attack on cities

The Afghanistan government has raised with the international community concerns of the government and its people on Taliban's brutal attacks on cities, leading to war crimes and human rights violations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

"During a meeting with Extended Troika meeting with the participation of Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan, Afghanistan called on the international community, especially the Troika meeting member states, to adopt serious measures to prevent Taliban attacks on cities," the statement adds.

13:52 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Denmark to evacuate current and former local employees from Afghanistan

Denmark has agreed to evacuate current and former employees of the Danish embassy or Danish armed forces in Afghanistan due to the worsening security situation, the government said late on Wednesday.Denmark will grant people who have been employed in the previous two years and their close relatives temporary residence permits for two years, the government said."The security situation in Afghanistan is serious.

The Taliban are gaining ground and developments are accelerating faster than many had feared," the government said in a statement."We have a common responsibility to help the Afghans who are now threatened due to their connection to and contribution to Denmark's engagement in Afghanistan," it said. (Reuters)

13:11 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Taliban capture Ghazni, now hold 10 of 34 provincial capitals

Two Afghan officials and the Taliban say the militants have seized the provincial capital of Ghazni.The capture Thursday marks the 10th provincial capital seized by the insurgents in the last week. Fighting was still ongoing on the outskirts of the city.

However, officials say the Taliban were raising their flag and the city had calmed after hours of heavy fighting.

The Afghan central government in Kabul and the security forces did not immediately acknowledge the capture of Ghazni.

Ghazni is some 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Kabul.

12:17 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Taliban won't talk peace unless Ghani goes, says Pakistani PM Imran Khan

Taliban leaders have said they will not negotiate with the Afghan government as long as Ashraf Ghani remains president, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday. With peace talks stalled, violence in Afghanistan has escalated spiked sharply as the insurgent group makes rapid territorial gains. 

'I tried to persuade the Taliban... three to four months back when the Taliban senior leadership came here,' Khan told foreign journalists at his home in Islamabad.

'The condition is that as long as Ashraf Ghani is there, we (Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government,' Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders as telling him. (Reuters)

11:41 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Police headquarters falls to Taliban in southern Afghanistan

The Taliban captured a police headquarters Thursday in a provincial capital in southern Afghanistan teetering toward being lost to the insurgents as suspected US airstrikes pounded the area, an official said.      

Fighting raged in Lashkar Gah, one of Afghanistan's largest cities in the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, where surrounded government forces hoped to hold onto the capital after the militants' weeklong blitz has seen them already seized nine others around the country.     

Afghan security forces and the government have not responded to repeated requests for comment over the days of fighting.

11:16 (IST)12 Aug 2021
Nearly four lakh people newly displaced in Afghanistan by conflict since start of year: UN

Nearly four lakh people have been newly displaced in Afghanistan since the start of the year, with a huge spike from May, a spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres has said, amid the deteriorating security situation in the war-torn country.The US has already pulled back most of its forces from Afghanistan and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31, ending nearly two-decade of its military presence in the country.Afghanistan has been witnessing a series of terror attacks since the US began withdrawing its troops on May 1. The Taliban insurgents have overrun one-quarter of Afghanistan's provincial capitals."Since the start of the year, nearly 390,000 people have been newly displaced by conflict across the country, with a huge spike since May," Spokesman for the Secretary General Guterres, Stephane Dujarric said at the daily press briefing on Wednesday.

He said according to UN humanitarian colleagues, between July 1 and August 5, 2021, the humanitarian community verified that 5,800 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have arrived in Kabul and are seeking safety from the conflict and other threats. They have received assistance including food, household items, water and sanitation support.  Dujarric said most of the internally displaced persons staying in Kabul are hosted by friends and family, but a growing number are staying in the open. Ten teams were deployed to assess the situation for people staying outside in parks and open spaces. "They identified an additional 4,522 displaced men, women and children in need of shelter, food, sanitation and drinking water. A temporary health clinic and mobile health teams are providing health services to these people," he said. (PTI)

Taliban fighter is seen inside the city of Farah, capital of Farah province southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (AP)

While the capital of Kabul itself has not been directly threatened in the advance, the stunning speed of the offensive raises questions of how long the Afghan government can maintain control of its countryside.

On Wednesday, the headquarters of the Afghan National Army's 217th Corps at Kunduz airport fell to the Taliban, according to Ghulam Rabani Rabani, a provincial council member in Kunduz, and lawmaker Shah Khan Sherzad.

The corps is one of seven across the army and its loss represents a major setback. The province's capital, also called Kunduz, was already among those seized, and the capture of the base now puts the country's northeast firmly in Taliban hands.

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