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Monday, September 20, 2021

How Taliban surrounded Afghanistan’s Kabul

Jalalabad's fall has given the Taliban control of a road leading to Peshawar, the city in Pakistan that lies to the east of landlocked Afghanistan.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
August 15, 2021 12:21:16 pm
Smoke rises after fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel, in Kandahar, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. (AP Photo)

The Taliban’s rapid advance through Afghanistan in the past few days has led it to the doorsteps of Kabul. The capital remains the only major city under the Afghan government’s control, following the capture of Jalalabad city early on Sunday. Jalalabad’s fall has given the Taliban control of a road leading to Peshawar, the city in Pakistan that lies to the east of landlocked Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a televised address on Saturday, said that he will not allow ‘imposed war’ on Afghans to bring further killings. He said that he is in talks with local leaders and international partners but did not elaborate. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has ruled out any change in his plans with regard to the withdrawal of all his troops from Afghanistan before September 11.

At the moment, the Taliban has gained control over all the cities surrounding Kabul.

Jalalabad: The key city, which is the capital of Nangarhar province, fell early on August 14. Jalalabad lies to the east of Kabul and was the last one standing between Kabul and the Taliban. Photos of the militants in the Jalalabad governor’s office were shared online, reported the Associated Press.

Ghazni: On August 12, the Taliban captured Ghazni city, which is the capital of the Ghazni province. It lies to the southwest of Kabul.

Kandahar: Taliban militants captured Kandahar, a province in southern Afghanistan and the second-largest Afghan city, on August 13. The military airport in Kandahar had been struck down by Taliban rockets earlier this month to thwart Afghan airstrikes.

Taliban patrolling in the streets of Herat, Afghanistan Taliban forces patrol a street in Herat, Afghanistan on August 14, 2021. (Reuters photo)

Herat: Herat province’s capital too was captured on August 13. Herat is Afghanistan’s third-largest city and lies to the west of Kabul. The city had been under attack for about two weeks prior to its fall.

Mazar-i-Sharif: The biggest city in northern Afghanistan fell to the Taliban on August 14. Situated close to the border with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Mazar-i-Sharif is Afghan’s fourth-largest city.

Kunduz: The capital of Kunduz province was seized on August 8. Kunduz was an important capture for the Taliban as it provides access to northern Afghanistan as well as Kabul.

Also read | The Afghan military was built over 20 years. How did it collapse so quickly?

Foreign troops scramble to evacuate Kabul

The US, Britain and Canada have sent in additional troops to Kabul to assist the evacuation of diplomatic staff still there. The US has authorised a 5,000-troop force to secure an airlift of US Embassy personnel and Afghan allies.

Meanwhile, Indian Express’s Shubhajit Roy wrote from Kabul that refugees from small towns are pouring into the city every day. “The city’s famed parks are now sanctuaries, converted into refugee shelters,” he writes. Photographs showed a packed Kabul international airport with long queues at ticket counters set up in the parking lot outside the terminal.

India’s concerns

India had pulled out Indian staffers at consulates in Jalalabad and Herat in 2020, due to concerns over Covid-19 and heightened violence. Last week, India evacuated its diplomats and security personnel from the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar as well. As of now, the Indian embassy in Kabul is working but has issued strict security advisories asking Indians to leave Afghanistan in view of the escalation in violence.

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