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Talibanes toman 15 capitales de Afganistán tras caer Kandahar, Lashkargah y Firozkoh

Taliban Seize 15 Major Afghan Cities, Prompting Return of U.S. Troops

In the past 24 hours, Afghan forces and the Taliban fought in seven of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, resulting in the death of 202 Taliban soldiers

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The Taliban took control in the last hours of the important southern cities of Kandahar and Lashkargah, capitals of the homonymous province and Helmand respectively, and of the western Firozkoh, capital of Ghor, bringing to 15 the number of Afghan regional capitals fallen in a week.

These three latest conquests underline the speed with which the Taliban are advancing in taking control of the country, after taking 15 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces in one week.

This is the first time in almost twenty years of war that the Kabul government has lost so many territories in a matter of days.

Kandahar

In Kandahar, the security forces “withdrew from the city; the governor’s house, the police headquarters and other institutions are in the hands of the Taliban,” assured lawmaker Khalil Ahmad Mujahid, confirming the previous claim of the insurgents.

At the moment there is no government decision on whether it will launch a counter-attack to retake Kandahar, the country’s second city after Kabul, he said.

“Now there are only a few soldiers at Kandahar airport, the rest of the province is completely under Taliban control,” Khalil Ahmad Mujahid, another parliamentarian from Kandahar, told EFE.

Kandahar has been considered the historical capital of the country, having served for centuries as the center of power in Afghanistan.

It was also an important operational base for U.S. forces in Afghanistan until international troops handed over command of its facilities to Afghan forces on May 1 as part of the final phase of their withdrawal.

The province is also considered the birthplace of the Taliban movement and was the base of the Taliban’s top leader, Mullah Omar, during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.

Lashkargah

Lashkargah “was completely taken last night by the Taliban and this morning they raised their white flag over the governor’s house and now the whole city is under their control,” Attaullah Afghan, head of the Helmand provincial council, told EFE.

Following the insurgents’ conquest, the regional military commander, the governor, and other officials left the city by helicopter; the rest of the forces and officials “left the city in a convoy after the Taliban gave them safe passage,” Abdul Majid Akhundzada, a member of the provincial council, told EFE.

All government institutions in the province, including Lashkargah airport, are now under Taliban control, he said.

On this first day under Taliban rule, almost all citizens have gone to work and started their daily lives, while “the Taliban are patrolling the city,” Akhundzada said.

Helmand province is also a Taliban stronghold, and is also the province that produces the most opium among the country’s 34 provinces.

Firozkoh

The provincial capital of Ghor, Firozkoh, has so far been the latest to fall into the hands of the Taliban.

“The governor of Ghor along with all security forces tried to leave Ghor by road. But the Taliban did not give them passage and finally after negotiations, the city was evacuated today,” Ghor MP in Parliament Fatima Kohistan told EFE.

“Now the whole city is in the hands of the Taliban,” she added.

The Taliban also confirmed their victory in this provincial capital after all security forces surrendered to Taliban fighters, Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi said on Twitter.

In the past 24 hours, Afghan forces and the Taliban held fighting in seven of 34 Afghan provinces, during which 202 Taliban fighters were killed and 89 wounded, according to the Afghan Defense Ministry’s daily balance sheet.

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