August 08, 2021 – 10:26
Fierce fighting was reported August 8 in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province between Taliban militants and government forces.
The Taliban are aiming to take control of major cities, as they have extended control to many rural areas.
As of August 6, the militants had taken control of two provincial capitals, but taking control of Kunduz provincial capital, with a population of about 375,000, would be the most significant victory to date.
The Taliban have launched an offensive against government forces since the United States and other countries began withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan in May after nearly 20 years of combat operations there.
Media reports say several key government buildings in Kunduz have been taken over by the Taliban.
“Fierce fighting is continuing in various parts of the city. Some security forces have been withdrawn towards the airport,” said Amruddin Wali, a member of the Kunduz provincial council.
The Provincial Directorate of Public Health said at least 11 people were killed and 39 injured during the fighting that began on the evening of August 6th.
“The Taliban have reached the main square of the city. The planes are bombing them,” said Abdul Aziz, a Kunduz resident.
Falling into the hands of the Kunduz Taliban would be a major blow to the Kabul government, which has largely abandoned fighting in villages to defend major cities.
On August 6, the Taliban took control of the first provincial capital, Zaranj, in the far southwestern province of Nimroz. A day later they also took control of Sheberghan, the capital of the northern Javzjan province.
On August 7, US warplanes bombed Taliban positions in Sheberghan.
“US forces have carried out several airstrikes in defense of our Afghan partners in recent days,” Major Nicole Ferrara, a spokeswoman for US Central Command, told AFP.
Fierce fighting is also reported in the north of the country in Talokuan, the capital of Takhar Province, and Faiz Abad, the capital of Badakhshan province.
Fighting was also reported on the outskirts of the main cities of Herat in the west, and Lashkar Gah and Kandahar in the south.
US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in October 2001.
The Taliban were then harboring Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures linked to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
US President Joe Biden has said the US withdrawal is now reasonable, as US forces are assured that Afghanistan will no longer become a base for foreign jihadists to carry out plots against the West. / REL