This Saturday, the Taliban conquered Mazar-i-Sharif, the great bastion the government left in the north of the country, and continue their rapid advance to Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed citizens in a televised message to report that he has initiated contacts with local leaders and international partners to urgently find a solution that will ensure “peace and stability” in the country. The Taliban relentlessly advances to take Kabul, where the first US soldiers sent to support the evacuation of its diplomats have already landed. Insurgents took over two other provinces on Saturday. The militias are located a few dozen kilometers from the capital of Afghanistan, according to various sources. The Associated Press agency already places them in a district 11 kilometers away.
“I have initiated consultations” that “fast forward” in the Government, with political leaders and international partners, to find “a political solution that brings peace and stability to the Afghan people,” Ghani said Saturday. “The result will be shared with our compatriots very quickly,” he added. “Remobilizing our security and defense forces is our number one priority,” the president said.
The military situation is critical for the Government. In just over a week, the Taliban have taken control of most of northern, western and southern Afghanistan and are on the doorstep of Kabul. The rebels are between 40 and 70 kilometers from the capital, according to various sources, and are continuing their offensive.
“I will not allow the war imposed on the people to cause the death of more innocent people, the disappearance of the achievements of the last 20 years, the destruction of public facilities and the continuation of instability,” promised Ghani. The president did not mention a possible resignation, alleged by some voices.
two more provinces
The takeover of Mazar-i-Sharif is a new blow to the Afghan government. Government security forces fled to the Uzbekistan border, according to Reuters. “The Taliban have taken control of Mazar-i-Sharif,” said Afzal Hadid, head of the Balkh provincial council, who said the city had fallen without much resistance, although sporadic clashes were still taking place in the surrounding area.
“[Os talibãs] they are parading with their vehicles and motorcycles, shooting into the air to celebrate,” Atiqullah Ghayor, a resident of the city, told France Presse, who also explained that Afghan forces had withdrawn from the city.
The Taliban also conquered two other provinces this Saturday. The rebels have completed the capture of Logar province, south of Kabul, and detained local authorities, according to sources quoted by the AP, who say the militias are in Char Asyab district, 11 kilometers south of the capital.
Paktika province and its capital, Sharana, also fell into Taliban hands. “The authorities evacuated the governor’s house and the police headquarters and the Taliban entered the city,” Khalid Asad, deputy from Paktika province in the lower house of the national parliament, told Efe.
Sharana was delivered peacefully and without “firing a bullet,” Asad noted, as government officials and security forces evacuated the city after reaching an agreement with the Taliban through tribal leaders in the area.
Evacuation and destruction of documentation
The first US soldiers of the 3,000 sent to ensure the evacuation of the country’s diplomats arrived in Kabul on Saturday. The last should arrive on Sunday.
Meanwhile, US Embassy personnel are busy destroying and burning confidential documents and American symbols that could be used by the Taliban for propaganda purposes. In a service note available to Agence France Presse, an embassy official tells staff where the incinerator and other document destruction equipment are located.
“We are also grateful for the inclusion of articles with the logo of the embassy or ministry, American flags and other items”, states the note. This is common procedure in these cases, according to a State Department spokesman.
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