in Afghanistan, the lightning offensive of the Taliban

The Taliban have accelerated the inexorable pace of their advance in Afghanistan: the insurgents conquered, Thursday, August 12, Kandahar, in the south, and Herat, in the west, respectively the second and third largest city in the country. On Friday they seized Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province (southwest). The precipitous falls of these major cities constitute a devastating setback for the Kabul regime, a few days before a total American withdrawal, expected by August 31. Now only three major cities in the country, including the capital, Kabul, are controlled by the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

During the week, the Taliban continued their lightning offensive, seizing city after city of important provincial capitals across the country. They are now in a position to seize Kabul, where the US government is preparing for an evacuation of its consular employees and its nationals. Washington has decided to send a few thousand soldiers, officially to evacuate its diplomats.

Insurgents now control more than half of the country’s roughly four hundred districts. With the fall of Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah, “students of religion” are now in power in fifteen of the thirty-four provincial capitals, including Ghazni, south of Kabul, and Qala-e Naw, the capital of Badghis province, in the north-west of the country. The whole of southern Afghanistan is in their hands.

“The situation is catastrophic”

In the North, which was the center of the anti-Taliban resistance before the fall of their regime in 2001, following the American intervention, almost all of the territories were also in the hands of the attackers. The accumulation of these rapid military advances has resulted in the demoralization of the Afghan security forces, which have sometimes surrendered without a fight or have fled. Fatigue, lack of supply, as well as mismanagement are among the factors explaining the fall of these cities, believe sources close to the secret services.

Herat, which is a major cultural and economic center, located 150 kilometers from Iran, has been defended for the past two weeks by the Afghan army, as well as by the militias of Ismail Khan, the war “lord” of Iran. importance and charismatic figure of the anti-Soviet “jihad” in the 1980s. The soldiers initially succeeded in repelling the offensive, but, on Thursday, the situation changed: videos show Taliban fighters marching, weapons in hand , around the historic city palace.

You have 65% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.