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Taliban seize Jalalabad, cut off Afghan capital from east

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani and acting defence minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi visit military corps in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 14, 2021. Afghan Presidential Palace/Handout.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Taliban seized the city of Jalalabad early August 15, cutting off Afghanistan's increasingly isolated capital Kabul to the east as the insurgents' blitz across the country continued ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country after two decades of war.

The collapse of Jalalabad, which had been the last major city standing besides Kabul, leaves Afghanistan's central government in control of just the capital and seven other provincial capitals. In a nationwide offensive that has taken just over a week, the Taliban has defeated, co-opted or sent Afghan security forces fleeing from wide swathes of the country, even with some air support by the U.S. military.

More Afghan cities fall as Taliban near Kabul

President Ashraf Ghani, who spoke to the nation on August 14, for the first time since the offensive began, appears increasingly isolated as well. Warlords he negotiated with just days earlier have surrendered to the Taliban, leaving Mr. Ghani without a military option. Ongoing negotiations in Qatar, the site of a Taliban office, also have failed to stop the insurgents' advance as thousands of civilians flee into Kabul.

The militants posted photos online early on August 15, showing them in the governor's office in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province.

Abrarullah Murad, a lawmaker from the province told The Associated Press that the insurgents seized Jalalabad after elders negotiated the fall of the government there. Mr. Murad said there was no fighting as the city surrendered.

Taliban capture key northern city, approach Afghan capital

The seizure on August 15, comes amid rapid gains by the Taliban over the last week, pressuring Afghanistan's central government as US, British and Canadian forces rush troops in to help their diplomatic staffs still there.

The fall on August 14, of Mazar-e-Sharif, the country's fourth largest city, which Afghan forces and two powerful former warlords had pledged to defend, hands the insurgents control over all of northern Afghanistan.

On his speech on August 14, Mr. Ghani vowed not to give up the “achievements” of the 20 years since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. has continued holding peace talks between the government and the Taliban in Qatar this week, and the international community has warned that a Taliban government brought about by force would be shunned. But the insurgents appear to have little interest in making concessions as they rack up victories on the battlefield.

Afghan tragedy: On the second coming of the Taliban

“We have started consultations, inside the government with elders and political leaders, representatives of different levels of the community as well as our international allies,” Mr.Ghani said. “Soon the results will be shared with you,” he added, without elaborating further.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes, with many fearing a return to the Taliban's oppressive rule. The group had previously governed Afghanistan under a harsh version of Islamic law in which women were forbidden to work or attend school, and could not leave their homes without a male relative accompanying them.

Salima Mazari, one of the few female district governors in the country, expressed fears about a Taliban takeover on August 14, in an interview from Mazar-e-Sharif, before it fell.

“There will be no place for women,” said Ms. Mazari, who governs a district of 36,000 people near the northern city. “In the provinces controlled by the Taliban, no women exist there anymore, not even in the cities. They are all imprisoned in their homes.”


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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 9:50:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/taliban-seize-jalalabad-cut-off-afghan-capital-from-east/article35922274.ece

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