Taliban are not showing any respect to Doha deal. Instead, taking advantage of the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, they have started heavy fighting with the Afghan government forces, while according to media reports, Taliban now control several districts in Helmand province.
According to 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.
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 capital, but has not occupied any part of the capital since being overthrown in 2001.
Analysts of CNN said, 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 Taliban accused a “mercenary enemy” of killing civilians in an airstrike on the seventh district of Lashkar Gah, an area that’s seen heavy clashes. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that “many houses were destroyed and people suffered great financial losses.” There was no way to confirm the Taliban claim.
In its latest bulletin, the Afghan Ministry of Defense reports fighting in 13 provinces and says 254 Taliban have been killed in the past day.
The province of Herat — in northwest Afghanistan — is one that has 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.
After almost twenty years of US force’s presence in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden took the decision of withdrawing, which has generated encouragement to Taliban as well as Iranian proxies in capturing power thus pushing the country under Islamist rule. Meanwhile, there are indications of a possible battle between the Sunni and Shiite militancy groups, which may ultimately result in breaking of a civil war in already war-torn country. According to Pentagon, more than 95 percent of the US troops have already left Afghanistan which has resulted in rapid expansion of Taliban presence to large swaths of the country. International community has already been shocked at the speed of losing of control by the Afghan security forces to the Taliban. According to analysts, Afghan capital Kabul may fall to the Taliban soon. It may be mentioned here that, all the foreign forces are expected to leave Afghanistan by August 31.
According to the Long War Journal, a US non-profit which 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.
It said, nationwide, the Taliban controls 223 districts, with 116 contested and the government holding 68, while CNN says, 17 of 34 provincial capitals are directly threatened by the Taliban.
Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal said, “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 EU’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, said he believed the war was set to get much worse.
He said 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 organizations 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.
The entire scenario is extremely scary and worrisome. Afghanistan is about to slip into the grips of Islamists forces within the next few weeks, meaning, the country may turn into global terrorist sanctuary. This is an alarming news for every nation in the world, particularly the Middle Eastern countries, China and India.
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