Afghan civil war: Taliban makes advances in northern Afghanistan; hundreds of civilian casualties

Taliban insurgents are going after what is left of main pockets of government resistance in northern Afghanistan as they intensify their attacks on  Balkh and Takhar, the two key northern provinces which have resisted the Taliban offensive so far

Aug 09, 2021
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Afghan civil war

Taliban insurgents are going after what is left of main pockets of government resistance in northern Afghanistan as they intensify their attacks on  Balkh and Takhar, the two key northern provinces which have resisted the Taliban offensive so far. This came after the group seized control of at least five provincial centers last week, and are now actively contesting several others.  

Government forces on Sunday retreated from Taloqan, the provincial center of Takhar province, which had once served as the headquarters of famous anti-Taliban commander Ahmed Shah Massoud in the late 90s. 

In Kunduz city and Sar-e-Pul, the two strategically important cities in the north, insurgents are holding most parts, leaving the government forces in army bases and in nearby airports. 

Local reports showed thousands of prisoners in these cities were freed after the Taliban took control of the cities. The recent advances were the latest in a series of blows to government forces as US troops complete their pullout after nearly two decades in the country. 

Significantly, leaders of local uprising forces in these areas have criticized the government and military leaders for not providing enough support. Both in Kunduz and Taloqan, the local forces along with units of Afghan forces had put a fierce resistance for over a week time. They only retreated only after they ran out of ammunition and supplies. 

The situation is almost the same in Herat, a western city where the local forces under Ismail Khan have been defending the city for over a month now. On Sunday, many local commanders asked the government for urgent supplies as they were expecting imminent attacks. 

Rangin Dadfar Spanta, a former Afghan National Security Advisor, also criticized the government for failing to support the local forces who have been putting fierce resistance. He called upon the government to equip, resupply the forces led by Ismail Khan to prevent the fall of Herat. 

Ata Muhammad Noor, a former warlord and former governor of Balkh, who is leading local forces in Mazar-e-Sharif, also raised alarm on Sunday, warning against stepped-up attacks in the province by the Taliban.

Last week, despite heavy airstrikes by the Afghan Air Force and the US forces, insurgents made advances in many several provinces in the country. Civilian casualties, too, are mounting. In Kunduz city alone, several local journalists in Afghanistan estimated over 100 civilians have been killed in the last 24 hours alone.