The Taliban occupied Kunduz City, which the armed group said was the third capital city occupied by the armed group in the past three days.
The Taliban issued a statement on Sunday saying that it had occupied the city’s police headquarters, governor’s compound and prison.
Local sources and reporters in Kunduz confirmed to Al Jazeera that there are Taliban fighters in the capital.
Sunday’s acquisition is after the group Capture the provinces of Nimruz and Jozcan In the last two days.
Kunduz had previously joined the group in 2015 and 2016.
According to the Deputy Governor of the Taliban, on the second day after Zaranji “surrendered without a fight” in Nimruz, the Deputy Governor of the Taliban stated that the Taliban had occupied the city of Shebergan.
“A reporter in downtown Kunduz told us that the Taliban had taken over the Office of the Chief of Police and the Office of the Election Commission, and the Taliban’s flag was flying at the central roundabout,” Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis reported in the capital Kabul. .
“The government denies that Kunduz has fallen, but from all angles, it has fallen.”
Afghanistan Ministry of Defense Posted a video An Afghan commando stated that the national security forces have been conducting coordinated operations in the province in the past 24 hours.
The commando said in the video that the Taliban suffered heavy casualties in these operations because they “try to occupy key points in the province”, adding that the armed group’s “dream” will not be realized.
“You should make sure that the Afghan army is with you,” the commando told the Kunduz people.
Although the Taliban have occupied two provincial capitals since Friday, in the final stage of the withdrawal of foreign troops, since the armed group launched an offensive in May, Kunduz, located in the far north, will be the most important occupied area.
According to reports, the Afghan government forces have abandoned the countryside, but are now scrambling to defend a series of cities across the country.
Since launching a series of offensives in May, the Taliban have occupied most of rural Afghanistan to coincide with the beginning of the final withdrawal of foreign troops.
The Ministry of Defense said that on Saturday night, American B-52 bombers attacked several Taliban targets in Shebergan.
At the same time, fierce fighting continues in southern Kandahar and the capital of Helmand province, which the Taliban have been trying to take over for several weeks.
On Saturday, the US Embassy issued a statement condemning Taliban invaded provincial centers in the south and north.
“We condemn the new round of violent offensives by the Taliban against the Afghan cities. This includes the illegal seizure of Zaranje, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nimruz Province, the attack yesterday and today on Shebe Khan, the capital of Jozcan Province, and continued efforts to take over Helmand. Province and other provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah,” the statement read.
Sheberghan is the home of the notorious strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, who returned to Afghanistan only this week after receiving treatment in Turkey.
Dostum oversees one of the largest militia groups in the north, which gained a terrible reputation during the fighting with the Taliban in the 1990s-and was accused of slaughtering thousands of prisoners of war by his troops.
On Saturday, Dostum met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace. A palace statement quoted Dostum as saying that “it is time to fight side by side with the security forces” and “confront the enemy.”
Any retreat by the Dostum fighters would undermine the government’s recent hope that the militia can help support the country’s over-stretched army.
In Zaranji, social media posts hinted that the Taliban were welcomed by some residents.
They showed captured military Hummers, luxury SUVs, and pickups galloping down the streets, and when residents (mainly young people and young people) cheered for them, they fluttered the white Taliban flag.
“Due to the strong propaganda of the Taliban, the morale of the Afghan security forces is low,” a senior city official who asked not to be named told AFP. “Even before the Taliban attack…Most security forces put their weapons on the ground, took off their uniforms, and fled the troops.”
Officials said that when entering Zaranji, the fighters opened the gate of the city prison and released Taliban prisoners and ordinary criminals.
Additional reporting by Ali Latifi in Kabul