August 13, 2021 | FDD's Long War Journal

Afghan government on verge of collapse as Taliban capture 4 more cities

August 13, 2021 | FDD's Long War Journal

Afghan government on verge of collapse as Taliban capture 4 more cities

The Taliban seized control of four more provincial capitals, and cemented it’s control of the strategic south with the capture of Zabul and Uruzgan provinces.

The Taliban captured the provincial capitals of Qalat in Zabul, Tarin Kot in Uruzgan, Pul-i-Alam in Logar, and Fayroz Koh in Ghor over the past 24 hours. All four provinces are now under Taliban control. In one day, the Taliban took control of 8 capitals: Kandahar City, Lashkar Ghah, Herat, and Qala-I-Naw.

In only 8 days, the Taliban took control of 16 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and conquered 18 of its provincial capitals. This rout of ANDSF forces has opened the door for a Taliban siege of Kabul, as the insurgents now firmly control the majority of Afghanistan’s cities and districts, including the strategically and culturally significant Kandahar. With control of Ghazni and Logar provinces, and an uptick in fighting in the east, the road to Kabul is now open.

In Zabul, the Taliban took Qalat without a fight, as the majority of ANDSF forces in the region were sent to defend Kandahar. With the fall of Kandahar, the neighboring province, the remaining soldiers and political leaders in Zabul did not see a realistic path to victory and simply surrendered. As is common in the surrendered capitals, the Taliban granted local officials safe passage out of the city.

In Uruzgan, which also borders Kandahar, Afghan security forces fought since early August to defend the capital of Tirin Kot from the insurgent assault; however, after the fall of Kandahar, local officials negotiated a surrender to avoid further bloodshed.

Similarly, in Fayroz Koh, the provincial capital of Ghor, the Taliban seized the city without a fight. Local officials chose to negotiate the terms of their surrender rather than be the latest city to be steamrolled by the Taliban offensive.

In Logar, reports indicate that the ANDSF put up a strong fight, but the forces present in the capital of Pul-I-Alam simply could not withstand the Taliban onslaught. The Afghan Air Force bombarded Taliban positions around the city; however, it was insufficient to prevent the fall of the city. The current status of the local officials and soldiers who continued fighting in Puli Alam is currently unclear.

If the Afghan government and its vaunted military is unable to halt the Taliban advance or slow down the Taliban’s seemingly unstoppable momentum, the siege of Kabul may begin any day now.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal, where Andrew Tobin is an intern. Follow Bill on Twitter @billroggio. FDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues.

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Issues:

Afghanistan Jihadism Military and Political Power The Long War U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy