The Taliban have captured much of Afghanistan’s provincial capital of Helmand as they continue to advance on the US withdrawal.
Majid Akhund, vice chairman of the Helmand Provincial Council, confirmed that the Taliban had taken control of nine of Lashkar Gah’s 10 districts on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. They also took control of the city’s television and radio stations, which were disconnected.
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General Sami Sadat, Afghan forces commander for Helmand, urged residents of areas captured by the Taliban to evacuate immediately.
“Please evacuate your families from your homes and their surroundings,” Sadat said. “We will not leave the Taliban alive. … I know it’s hard. … We do it for your future. Forgive us if you are moved for a few days, please evacuate as soon as possible.
Taking control of Lashkar Gah would be a major victory for the Taliban, in part because it would be the first time they had control of a provincial capital. The group has already captured several border areas with Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
The United States will have all its troops out of Afghanistan by August 31, a date out of the previously planned September 11, and 95% of the troops have already been withdrawn. The Taliban have capitalized on the departure of US troops, according to the latest report from the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan, which details how attacks are escalating as Afghan personnel and infrastructure are in difficulty.
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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed the exit of the United States and NATO for the deteriorating security situation.
Over the weekend, the Taliban used rocket fire to attack Kandahar Airport in southern Afghanistan, and a Taliban spokesman said the target was strategically chosen because “l ‘enemy was using it as a center to carry out air strikes against us.’
The United States recently announced an expansion of its refugee program for Afghans who have worked with the United States military or contractors.
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Keywords: News, Taliban, War in Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Defense, National Security, Foreign Policy
Original author: Michel Brest
Original location: Taliban take control of most of Afghanistan’s provincial capital