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World Fighting rages as Taliban besiege three key cities

18:35  31 july  2021
18:35  31 july  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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Fighting is raging around three major cities in southern and western Afghanistan as Taliban militants seek to seize them from government forces.

a man holding a gun: Fighting is reported to be taking place in a number of locations in Herat © EPA Fighting is reported to be taking place in a number of locations in Herat

Taliban fighters have entered parts of Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar.

They have made rapid gains in rural areas since it was announced almost all foreign troops would go by September.

But the fate of these key cities could be crucial amid fears of a humanitarian crisis and how long government forces will be able to hold out.

The fundamentalist Islamist militia is already thought to have captured up to half of all Afghanistan's territory, including lucrative border crossings with Iran and Pakistan.

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  Thousands of Afghan families flee fighting in former Taliban bastion More than 22,000 Afghan families have fled from their homes to escape fighting in the former Taliban bastion of Kandahar, officials said Sunday, as authorities arrested four suspected insurgents over this week's rocket attack on Kabul. The authorities meanwhile announced they had arrested four men they said belonged to the Taliban, accusing them of carrying out this week's rocket attack on Kabul.Since early May, violence has surged across several provinces including in Kandahar after the insurgents launched a sweeping offensive just days after the US-led foreign forces began their final withdrawal.

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One MP in Kandahar told the BBC the city was at serious risk of falling, with tens of thousands of people already displaced and a humanitarian disaster looming.

Gul Ahmad Kamin said the situation was getting worse hour by hour, and the fighting within the city was the most severe in 20 years.

He said the Taliban now saw Kandahar as a major focal point, a city they want to make their temporary capital. If it fell, then five or six other provinces in the region would also be lost, Mr Kamin said.

a group of people standing around a table: Thousands have been displaced in Kandahar, amid fighting between the army and the Taliban © EPA Thousands have been displaced in Kandahar, amid fighting between the army and the Taliban

He said the Taliban fighters were on several sides of the city and because of the large civilian population government forces would not be able to use heavy weaponry if the militants got fully inside.

Afghanistan’s Herat under pressure amid ongoing Taliban assault

  Afghanistan’s Herat under pressure amid ongoing Taliban assault Battle for western city comes as Taliban also tries to inch closer to the southern cities of Kandahar and Lashkar Gah.Residents fear that the group could enter Herat, the nation’s third-largest city, any day.

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In Herat, a Tolo News reporter said clashes had intensified, with Taliban fighters entering southern parts of the economically important city.


Video: U.S offers further air support to Afghan troops (Reuters)

There are reports of fighting in at least five different locations.

The US is still carrying out air strikes to support the Afghan forces, who have recaptured a district around the airport.

A guard outside a UN compound near the airport was killed on Friday in what the UN described as a deliberate Taliban attack.

Residents say few places in the city are safe and some people are taking up arms to defend themselves.

Ismail Khan, a former commander who fought against Soviet forces in the 1980s, has launched an armed movement to try to defend the city.

Afghan forces battle to thwart Taliban assaults on key cities

  Afghan forces battle to thwart Taliban assaults on key cities Afghan government forces struggled against Taliban assaults on several major cities Sunday as the insurgents stepped up a nationwide offensive that saw a key airport in the south come under rocket fire overnight. Flights out of Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and was also the former bastion of the insurgents, were halted after rockets struck the airport before dawn. Airport chief Massoud Pashtun said two rockets had hit the runway and repairs were underway with planes likely to resume service later on Sunday.

In Lashkar Gah, capital of the southern province of Helmand, insurgents are reportedly still within 2km of the city centre, although government forces had succeeded in holding back an advance overnight.

The commander of Afghan forces said the militants had suffered significant casualties.

Local sources told the BBC the Taliban had advanced close to the governor's office on Friday before being forced back.

'Islamic emirate'

The EU's special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, said he believed the war was set to get much worse.

He told the BBC's chief international correspondent, Lyse Doucet, that he feared the Taliban way of thinking now was "something they had in the past - re-establishing... their Islamic emirate".

And the former head of the British Armed Forces, Gen David Richards, warned the international withdrawal could result in the collapse of the Afghan army's morale, leading to Taliban control and possibly a renewed international terrorist threat.

Humanitarian organisations have also warned of a major crisis in coming months as the Taliban continue their offensive - with a lack of food, water and services, and overcrowding in camps for the displaced.

Fighting rages as Taliban attack key Afghan city

  Fighting rages as Taliban attack key Afghan city The militants are battling to take control of a provincial capital for the first time in years.Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province is under heavy assault from the militants, despite US and Afghan air strikes.

map © BBC

US troops and their Nato and regional allies forced the Taliban from power in November 2001.

The group had been harbouring Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures linked to the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.

But despite a continued international presence, billions of dollars of support and training for the Afghan government forces, the Taliban regrouped and gradually regained strength.

In February 2020, then-US President Donald Trump and allies agreed to formulate a deal with the Taliban on the withdrawal of international combat forces.

This year, President Joe Biden announced the withdrawal would take place by September.

Taliban capture third Afghanistan capital in as many days .
The Taliban have seized a third capital in Afghanistan in as many days as the group continues to make aggressive and significant gains in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal. Taliban insurgents seized the city of Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan on Sunday. Kunduz is the third provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in three days, but it is the first major city taken since the Taliban started an aggressive military offensive in May. The loss of Kunduz is a stark development for the Afghan government due to its significant military and political contributions.

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