Taliban takes control of six Afghan cities in a week as US withdraws

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The Taliban has now taken control of six Afghan provincial capitals in a matter of days as American and NATO forces continue to finalize their pullout from the war-torn country.

Militants overran the northern cities of Sar-e Pul and Aibak after more than a week of resistance by Afghan security forces, Afghani officials said on Monday.

Government forces have now completely withdrawn from Sar-e Pul after several pro-government local militia commanders surrendered to the Taliban without a fight, Mohammad Noor Rahmani, the council chief of the northern province, said.

Militants also seized Aibak, the capital of the Samangan province, without resistance, deputy governor Sefatullah Samangani told AFP.

“The governor accepted and withdrew all the forces from the city,” Samangani said, adding that the Taliban were now in “full control” of Aibak.

A Taliban spokesperson also declared they had taken the city.

The Taliban claimed on Monday that they were now moving in on the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The Taliban have overrun six cities in the last week, including: Kunduz, Zaranj, Shibirghan and Taleqan.

The Taliban overran the city of Kunduz – one of the country’s larger cities – on Sunday and planted their flag on top of a traffic police booth in the main square.

It prompted thousands of residents to flee the city, the New York Times reports.

Militants have been ramping up their push across Afghanistan and are taking control of large swathes of land mostly in the countryside.

The Taliban offensive is intensifying as US and NATO troops continue to wrap up their withdrawal from the country next month.

As the Taliban attacks mount, Afghan forces and government troops have started retaliating with airstrikes that are being aided by the US.

It has prompted concerns about civilian victims, with UNICEF on Monday saying it was shocked by the increasing number of children casualties.

At least 27 children have been killed in various provinces in the last three days, UNICEF said.

The US announced back in April that it would completely end its military operation in Afghanistan by September 11.

Since then, American troops have gradually been withdrawn from the country after a military presence of nearly 20 years.

Due to the recent spate of violence in the country, the US embassy in Afghanistan on Saturday urged all American to leave “immediately.”

“The US Embassy urges US citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” the embassy said.

“Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul.”

With Post Wires

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