Taliban Captures Key Cities In Afghanistan, US Deploys B-52 Bombers
(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Amit Chaturvedi)
The Taliban are continuing with their offensive in Afghanistan, seizing more territory – this time in the northern part of the country – including Kunduz. Taliban forces mostly overran the provincial capital city of Sar-e-Pul, also in the country’s north, marking another loss for the government amid a series of unprecedented advances by the insurgent group.
Taliban’s actions have been criticised by the western powers as well as by people who are against the violence. Protests have been held in many cities across the world, in which people have sought United Nations’ intervention and denounced Pakistan for supporting the insurgent group.
At one such protest by Afghan citizens in Germany on Saturday, civil society activist Abdul Bari Samandar slammed Pakistan’s proxy war through Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The protest was organised as a Pakistani terrorist was arrested by Afghan commando forces in the outskirts of Ghazni provincial centre. He was involved in terrorist activities and the killing of civilians.
The Taliban, meanwhile, said that all parts of the city of Kunduz were under its control, adding that it had also seized armoured vehicles, weapons and military equipment.
Videos on social media showed huge amount of arms and ammunition seized by Taliban from security forces and house of Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostun in Jawzjan province. One of the videos shows Taliban fighters loading guns, including AK-47, and other weapons looted from Dostun’s house into a vehicle in Khawja Do Koh district.
The former vice president last week returned from Turkey, where he was believed to be receiving medical treatment. Dostum has overseen one of the largest militias in the north (Northern Alliance) along with Ahmad Shah Massoud who was considered as Sher-e-Panjshir, which garnered a fearsome reputation in its fight against the Taliban in the 1990s.
Heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Kunduz on Saturday killed at least 11 civilians and wounded 40, according to health director, Dr Ehsanullah Fazli.
Fighting in Afghanistan’s long-running conflict began to intensify in May when the US and other foreign forces started the final stage of a withdrawal, which will complete later this month.
The Taliban already control large portions of the countryside and are now challenging Afghan government forces in several large cities.
Meanwhile, 572 Taliban terrorists, including three Pakistani nationals affiliated to Al-Qaeda, were killed in airstrikes conducted by the Afghan Air Force at the outskirts of Lashkargah, Helmand provincial centre, on Sunday. On Friday too, as many as 30 Pakistani nationals, who were members of Al-Qaeda, were killed in airstrikes on Taliban targets in Helmand province.
These airstrikes come a day after the Afghan Ambassador to the UN Ghulam Isaczai said on Friday that Afghanistan is prepared to provide the United Nations Security Council with material evidence in support of its claim that Pakistan is ensuring a supply chain to the Taliban. The United States has sent its B-52 bombers and Spectre gunships to Afghanistan to stop the advancement of Taliban insurgents. According to UK-based The Times, the bombers are flying into Afghanistan from an airbase in Qatar, hitting targets around Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah.