Faizabad, the provincial capital of northern Badakhshan, fell overnight to the Taliban, according to report. It comes after Pul-e-Khumri, capital of the northern province of Baghlan, was taken by the insurgents, according to residents who reported Afghan security forces retreating toward the Kelagi desert.
“Afghan leaders have to come together,” the US president told reporters at the White House on Tuesday night, saying the Afghan troops outnumber the Taliban and must want to fight. “They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”
Biden said he did not regret his decision to withdraw troops from the country, noting that Washington has spent more than $1 trillion over 20 years and lost thousands of troops. He said the United States continued to provide significant air support, food, equipment and salaries to Afghan forces.
In Kabul, Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, said he was seeking help from regional militias he has squabbled with for years. He appealed to civilians to defend Afghanistan’s “democratic fabric”.Advertisementhttps://6741ec7d1a0e106c2b6168894e2d2b95.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
In Aibak, a provincial capital between Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, Taliban fighters were moving into government buildings. Most government forces appeared to have withdrawn.
“The only way is self-imposed house arrest or to find a way to leave for Kabul,” said tax officer Sher Mohamed Abbas, when asked about living conditions in Aibak. “But then even Kabul is not a safe option anymore,” said Abbas, who supports a family of nine.
For years, the north was Afghanistan’s most peaceful region, with only a minimal Taliban presence. The militants’ strategy appears to be to take the north, and border crossings in the north, west and south, and then close in on Kabul.
The Taliban, battling to defeat the US-backed government and reimpose strict Islamic law with peace talks at an impasse, met little resistance as they swept into Aibak on Monday.
Taliban forces now control 65% of Afghanistan, threaten to take 11 provincial capitals and seek to deprive Kabul of its traditional support from national forces in the north, a senior European Union official said on Tuesday.
The government has withdrawn from hard-to-defend rural districts to focus on holding population centres. Officials have appealed for pressure on Pakistan to stop Taliban reinforcements and supplies flowing over the border. Pakistan denies backing the Taliban.
The United States has been carrying out some air strikes to support government troops.
Taliban and government officials confirmed that the Islamist insurgents have overrun six provincial capitals in recent days in the north, west and south.
Gulam Bahauddin Jailani, head of the national disaster authority, told Reuters that fighting was going on in 25 of 34 provinces and 60,000 families had been displaced over the past two months, with most seeking refuge in Kabul.