The Taliban have captured the strategic city of Ghazni, a provincial capital on the road to Kabul, leaving the Afghan capital increasingly beleaguered and cut off from the rest of the country.
According to Nasir Ahmed Faqiri (head of Ghazni province council), Ghazni was taken by the militant group on Thursday morning local. According to Faqiri, only one unit of Afghan intelligence and police had been captured by the Taliban.
A Taliban spokesperson tweeted Thursday that the city was seized including the governor’s office and police headquarters. Daily Reuters is unable to independently verify the Taliban claims.
Ghazni was the 10th provincial capital that fell to the Taliban within a matter of days. It is located approximately 93 miles (150 km) south of Kabul on a major highway that connects Kabul with Kandahar. Kandahar is Afghanistan’s second-largest city.
Kandahar, which lies in the south of the country, has been besieged by the Taliban for weeks, and the group’s spokesperson claimed on Wednesday that they had taken control of its prison. They claimed to have freed 1,000 prisoners and distributed a video showing them outside the prison.
Gul Ahmad Kamin (a Kandahari parliament member) confirmed that the Taliban have taken control of a Kandahar wedding hall, which used to be the frontline position for Afghan forces. The wedding hall, visited by Daily Reuters just days ago, is about 600 meters away from the prison.
Ghazni was captured by the Taliban, who now control key areas to the south and north of Kabul. According to a Biden administration official, their earlier capture of Baghlan, a province located to the northeast of Kabul raised alarms among US officials. The location was considered vital for the defense capital.
A senior administration official familiar with one US intelligence assessment said Kabul could be isolated by the Taliban in the next 30 to 60 days, increasing the potential that the Afghan capital could fall under the control of the militant group.
According to another US official, another assessment predicts that the collapse could occur within 90 days. Others have stated that multiple assessments are available with different timelines.
Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, visited Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday to rally commandos that have been fighting with the Taliban for many days. Many of the provincial capitals around Mazar-e-Sharif were already seized by the militants. If Mazar is also captured, it will be a complete collapse of government control in the north.
Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee
The United Nations warned in the meantime that Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation has significantly deteriorated in recent weeks.
According to Stephane Dujarric, UN spokesperson, nearly 390,000.000 people were forced from their homes by conflict in the country since 2021, he said during Wednesday’s daily briefing.
UN humanitarian agencies stated that there has been an egregious increase in people fleeing their homes since May. They also claimed that 5,800 people fled Kabul between July 1st and August 5.
According to the UN, they have been provided with food, water, and household items. A growing number of people are also staying openly.
After less than three months, the Afghan government appointed a new chief of staff for the army as the country’s situation worsens.
General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai was replaced by Gen. Hibatullah Alicia. This was confirmed Wednesday by a spokesperson for the Afghan defense ministry.
Alizia was previously the commander of Afghanistan’s army’s special operation corps. This elite group of troops works alongside the air force and played an important role in containing the Taliban’s nationwide offensive.
Ahmadzai was only in the position since June.