Taliban Make Gains Across 3 Provinces in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban have seized territory across three provinces in northern Afghanistan in recent days, as the government in Kabul has struggled to reinforce isolated outposts amid the insurgent offensive.
More than 100 police officers and other security personnel in the north have surrendered to the Taliban in this latest campaign, and scores of others have retreated. The Taliban’s momentum has been particularly significant because it has touched even Afghanistan’s extreme northeast, which was once the mountain redoubt of the anti-Taliban resistance in the 1990s, when the Taliban governed the country.
On Monday, the insurgents overran a large district in Sar-i-Pul Province, in the northwest, when a local police force surrendered after a 10-day battle, provincial officials said.
And a renewed Taliban push has imperiled Kunduz, the second most important city in the north, which sits near the border with Tajikistan. On Monday, the Taliban seized towns on the outskirts of the city and took control of scores of villages in a district southwest of it, a leading pro-government militia commander in Kunduz Province, Mir Alam, said by telephone.
The city has been under threat since April, with the Taliban forces in the area having been bolstered by militants from Central Asia.
Government security officials believe the Taliban see Kunduz as a major prize: If it falls, it will be the first city they have managed to seize since their government was toppled in late 2001. In recent months, the insurgents have pushed into the city’s outskirts and seized control of neighboring districts, only to disperse before government forces managed to counterattack. Whether insurgent forces will make an all-out push for the city this time remains to be seen.