World Afghanistan: Taliban take over TV station in strategic city
At Afghanistan's northern border, worries about what comes next
At Afghanistan's northern border with Tajikistan, there are worries about terrorism and a refugee crisis following the Taliban taking back over Afghanistan. There are no walls or fences, and, standing on the Tajikistan side, northern Afghanistan is so close that as ABC reporters looked across last week, Taliban fighters waved back at them.
have taken over a TV station in Afghanistan's strategic Helmand province, a source at the TV and radio station told CNN on Monday, marking the latest of a series of in the country.
The Helmand TV station, located in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, is operated by state-run Radio and Television Afghanistan. Local journalists in Lashkar Gah say there is nothing currently being broadcast over the station.
Afghan woman, daughter escape Kabul: Her plea to help family stuck behind
Sarina and her two-year-old daughter made a harrowing escape from Afghanistan in late August, but she’s pleading for help to save her at-risk family that's still behind. She said she came to terms with dying during her first attempt to get inside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Aug. 19, surrounded by shouting, gunshots and beatings in a sea of thousands of people desperate to flee -- but she said she told herself if she could just get her two-year-old daughter out of the Taliban's Afghanistan, it would be OK.
In a text message to CNN, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said the group has taken over the station.
The incident comes as the United States has ramped up airstrikes against the Taliban in a bid to turn back the militants' advances on a number of, a senior Afghan security official said Monday.
Over the past 72 hours, US airstrikes have targeted Taliban positions around the cities of Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, the official said.
"They strike multiple times when the Taliban try to enter the city," the official said, adding that the three cities were considered "endangered" by Taliban advances.
American officials have recently confirmed thatin Afghanistan again, which are now averaging between one and five strikes a day, a US defense official told CNN on Monday. The airstrikes are currently the only military assistance the US is rendering, the official also said.
Islamic State violence dents Taliban claims of safer Afghanistan
Islamic State violence dents Taliban claims of safer AfghanistanISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Last month, the family of Mawlavi Ezzatullah, a member of Afghanistan's Hizb-e Islami party, received a WhatsApp message from his phone: "We have slaughtered your Mawlavi Ezzat, come and collect his body.
While control on the ground is likely to shift back and forth still, as of Monday, Taliban forces were controlling some of the southern outskirts of Kandahar. Taliban forces that had initially surged toward Herat, near the Iran border, have for the moment been pushed back. But it is Lashkar Gah "that may be in the most jeopardy," the official said, with at least two police districts believed to be in Taliban control.
'It's not going well'
The weekend saw heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces in Lashkar Gah, where local journalists contacted by CNN also said the Taliban now control several districts of the city.
The defense official detailed a grim assessment of the situation on Monday, telling CNN: "It's not going well."
Lashkar Gah sits on strategic routes in all directions, including the highway between Kandahar and Herat and important agricultural areas to the south of the city. The Taliban has long had a strong presence in Helmand province, including around the provincial capital, but has not occupied any part of the capital since being overthrown in 2001.
Pakistan hosts US, Russia, China for talks on Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan on Thursday hosted talks with special envoys from the United States, Russia and China on the path forward for Afghanistan, where a deepening humanitarian crisis has forced many Afghans to migrate to neighboring countries since the Taliban takeover in August. Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was also present in Islamabad but he did not attend the meeting, dubbed the “troika plus." Muttaqi will meet with hisAfghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was also present in Islamabad but he did not attend the meeting, dubbed the “troika plus.
Video: Video shows 22 Afghan commandos executed by the Taliban (CNN)
The Afghan military reinforced its presence in the city on Saturday, bringing in special forces, according to a tweet from the 215 Corps, an army unit. It also carried out airstrikes against Taliban positions.
If Lashkar Gah were to fall to the Taliban it would be the first of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals to be lost by the government. But several others are surrounded by the Taliban, which also controls several major highways across Afghanistan.
The province of Herat has also seen heavy fighting. The Ministry of Defense tweeted Sunday: "Hundreds of special forces arrived in Herat province! These forces will increase offensive operations and suppress the Taliban in Herat. The security situation in the province will improve soon."
In an apparent acknowledgment of the seriousness of the situation in Herat, the Ministry of the Interior said that the deputy interior minister General Abdul Rahman Rahman had arrived there with police special forces.
Afghans say the Taliban is too busy policing women to prevent a humanitarian disaster that could leave half of Afghanistan hungry this winter
Three months into Taliban rule, half of the population of Afghanistan faces acute food insecurity between now and March, the UN says.The plan was to drive to the makeshift encampment on the northern edge of Afghanistan's capital that's become home to scores of displaced Afghans and distribute the warm clothing.
Videos that appeared Saturday indicate that the Taliban now control the road linking the capital -- also called Herat -- with its airport. A local journalist told CNN Sunday that the Taliban has control of much of Goazara district near the airport, and has also taken Karoakh to the east.
The airport itself remains in government hands.
"It's not a foregone conclusion" the Taliban will take control of the provincial capitals, the defense official said. The concern, however, is deep in US military circles. Those cities "are under a lot of pressure. If one falls the potential for unraveling of Afghan confidence in the government becomes a real possibility," the official said.
US withdraws, Taliban steps in
After nearly 20 years in Afghanistan, the US military, at President Joe Biden's direction, is in the final stages of withdrawing troops from the country, bringing an end to America's longest war.
The Pentagon has said about 95% of US troops have left and the Taliban have rapidly expanded their presence to large swaths of country. The speed at which Afghan security forces have lost control to the Taliban has shocked many and led to concerns that the capital, Kabul, could be next to fall. All foreign forces are expected to leave Afghanistan by August 31.
According to the Long War Journal, a US nonprofit that tracks control of territory in Afghanistan, the Taliban now controls 13 of 16 districts in Herat province. Most of its gains came in the month of July.
Don’t whitewash details of photojournalist Danish Siddiqui’s murder
On July 16, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, the chief photographer for Reuters in India, was killed in Afghanistan. © Provided by Washington Examiner His death made headline news around the world. "He was embedded with a convoy of Afghan forces that was ambushed by Taliban militants near a key border post with Pakistan," the BBC reported. He "was killed while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and the Taliban," the New York Times wrote. He "was killed in what was described as Taliban crossfire," the Washington Post explained.
Nationwide, the Taliban controls 223 districts, with 116 contested and the government holding 68, according to the Long War Journal, whose calculations tally with CNN's estimates. It says 17 of 34 provincial capitals are directly threatened by the Taliban.
The vast majority of Taliban gains have come since the US drawdown of forces began in May, after President Biden's announcement that all US combat forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of August.
Bill Roggio, who edits the Long War Journal, said Saturday that "the withdrawal of US air assets, which provided more than 80% of the combat power to battle the Taliban, and civilian contractors to provide maintenance, along with combat attrition, has put an enormous strain on the Afghan Air Force."
The worsening security situation across Afghanistan in the wake of foreign troop withdrawal and Taliban advances, has forced an estimated 294,000 from their homes since January, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on July 21, bringing the total internally displaced to more than 3.5 million.
International concerns for Afghanistan's citizens are continuing to mount.
A recent report from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) found that the Taliban have killed at least 40 people since July 16 in Kandahar province's Spin Boldak district.
The commission said its findings, released on Saturday, revealed that the Taliban has retaliated against past and present government officials and residents who welcomed Afghan security forces during the recapture of the Spin Boldak district on July 14.
That same week,members of the Afghan special forces as they tried to surrender.
This story has been updated with additional reporting Monday.
Facebook made niche exceptions to its Taliban ban, internal documents show .
"We've allowed some content about the provision of essential public services in Afghanistan," a Facebook spokesperson told The Intercept.The Taliban, which announced they had formed an interim government in Afghanistan in early September, are on Facebook's list of "Dangerous Individuals and Organizations," and a company spokesperson told Insider in August: "we remove accounts maintained by or on behalf of the Taliban and prohibit praise, support, and representation of them.