The Taliban continued their relentless advance in Afghanistan on Friday. The insurgents took Lashkar Gah (south), capital of Helmand province, a few hours after demolishing Kandahar, the country’s second city, located 150 kilometers to the east.
“Lashkar Gah has been evacuated. They decided on a 48-hour ceasefire to evacuate “the army and civil servants, a senior security official told AFP.
The Taliban also seized Chaghcharan (center), capital of Ghor province, without resistance on Friday. They also claimed to have taken over the police headquarters and prison in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province, 70 km south of Kabul.
Insurgents now control nearly half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals, all of which fell in just eight days.
Most of the north, west and south of the country are now under his control. Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, the main city in the north, and Jalalabad (east) are the only three major cities that are still under government control.
In Lashkar Gah, in a province traditionally taken over by the Taliban, they were well received and calm quickly returned after several days of violent clashes, according to a resident, Abdul Halim.
“Most of the city is in ruins due to the fighting and there is not enough food in the market. However, it still looks like a busy city, ”he told AFP.
The Taliban launched their offensive in May, when US President Joe Biden confirmed the departure of the last foreign troops from the country. The United States intervened twenty years ago to oust the Taliban from power, due to their refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
This retreat must be completed by August 31st. Since then, President Biden has said that he does not regret his decision, although the speed with which the Afghan army disintegrated in the face of the Taliban’s advance surprised and disappointed the Americans. They spent more than $ 1 billion in 20 years to train and equip you.
Washington has also decided to “further reduce” its “diplomatic presence” in Kabul “in the coming weeks,” State Department spokesman Ned Price announced overnight.