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 insurgency in its 20-year war. Afghanistan's Defence Ministry has launched a counter-offensive to evict the advancing militants from the strategically important Kunduz city.
Kabul (Afghanistan): In a major blow to the Afghan government, the Taliban on Sunday seized Kunduz in northern Afghanistan - a significant military prize after capturing the provinces of Takhar, Jawzjan, and Nimroz due to a vacuum left by US troop withdrawal, reported CNN.
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 insurgency in its 20-year war. A member of the Sar-e-pul provincial council told CNN the city had fallen to the Taliban and that one remaining army base containing Afghan security forces was surrounded by Taliban fighters.
The Taliban said in a statement that they had taken the city. CNN has been unable to independently verify the group's claims. Earlier in the day, a member of the Kunduz provincial council confirmed to CNN that most of the provincial capital had fallen to the Taliban. The militant outfit said that all parts of the city were under its control, adding that it had also seized armoured vehicles, weapons and military equipment. CNN could not independently confirm the Taliban's claims. Advertisement
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Meanwhile, in Kunduz, the Afghan Defense Ministry said commandos had taken back control of the city's General Raziq Square and the headquarters of the Kunduz National Radio and TV as fighting in the province continues. Kunduz is the third of four provincial capitals that the Taliban has captured in recent days. The Taliban briefly captured Kunduz in 2015 and again in 2016, before being pushed out by Afghan security forces.
The city of Zaranj, near the Iranian border, became the first provincial capital to fall into Taliban control on Friday. The following day, the insurgents seized Sheberghan, the provincial capital of Jawzjan, near the border of Turkmenistan. The Taliban have captured Takhar province's capital Taluqan city on Sunday amid US troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan. The string of victories that the Taliban is gaining has shocked many. There are fears even the national capital, Kabul, could fall.
The US has ramped up airstrikes against Taliban positions over the past week in a bid to halt the insurgents' advances as its drawdown of troops continues. The US Embassy in Kabul criticized the Taliban's offensive on Afghan cities on Sunday, saying its actions to "forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its claim to support a negotiated settlement in the Doha peace process. They demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country's humanitarian crisis."
Sad state of women
The territories that have fallen to the Taliban in the past few days in Afghanistan have witnessed horrors from the past. There have been reports of Taliban forces killing civilians and off-duty security personnel as well as bombing homes and assaulting women.
Federico Giuliani, writing in an Italian newspaper InsideOver said that Taliban terrorists are trying to impose rigid and suppressive rules based on Sharia laws in the area they have captured recently. New fatwas (decrees) issued by them forbid women from going out of their homes without male companions while forces men to grow a beard. They also have come up with dowry regulations for girls, said Merajuddin Sharifi, a social activist. They urged women in a statement to not leave home without a male relative. "Taliban insist on trials without evidence," he said. There are more sanctions on women. Now, they cannot ride a taxi and be always covered in burqa.
Revoking old memories, the Taliban has banned the production and distribution of music or any audio-visual entertainment. Women are worse affected by the Taliban brutalities. They are being beaten in public and even killed. Innocent Afghani women are being forced into "jihad al-nikah", in which daughters and wives are forcefully sent to terrorists to serve them sexually, says Giuliani.
Former US president George W Bush has feared that Afghan women and girls are going to "suffer unspeakable harm." It led him to question the decision to pull out troops, which led to the war-torn country being swallowed by Taliban terrorists.
"I think the consequences are going to be unbelievably bad," he said. Moreover, many such videos of atrocities by Taliban terrorists are going viral, which also show distressed Afghani people asking for global help, says Giuliani. The assault on civilians by the Taliban has caused the deaths of hundreds of innocent people including children. Over 900,000 people are reported to have been displaced after the Taliban launched attacks on civilian areas in the past three months, reported InsideOver.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has reported that as many as 2,957 civilians' casualties were reported in the first six months of 2021, of which 1,213 deaths were deaths. Taliban was responsible for 48.5 per cent of these civilian casualties. Now, the UK and the US have accused the Taliban of 'massacring civilians' in possible 'war crimes' in Spin Boldak, south Afghanistan. Taliban took 900 people out of their homes and shot them to death, reported InsideOver.
"The Taliban's leadership must be held responsible for the crimes of their fighters. The Taliban massacred dozens of civilians in revenge killings. These murders could constitute war crimes," the US and the UK embassies said.
Govt launches attacks
Amid the Taliban's attempts to capture more cities in Afghanistan, the country's Defence Ministry has launched a counter-offensive to evict the advancing militants from the strategically important Kunduz city. Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the ministry, said that the Units of Special Force have been fighting in Kunduz "to clear the city from terrorists", Xinhua news agency reported.