Taliban Insurgents Take Over 4 Provincial Capitals in Afghanistan

Taliban fighters on Sunday took over government buildings in two provincial capitals, Kunduz and Sar-e Pol, bringing to four the number of capitals in Afghanistan that the insurgent group has seized in the last three days.

On Saturday, the Taliban captured Sheberghan, the capital of Jowzjan province, and on Friday, Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz, fell “without a fight,” according to its deputy governor.

The major Taliban offensive that began in May coincided with the start of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, part of a 2020 peace deal between the Taliban and the United States, set to be completed by the end of the month. Kunduz, a city with a population of 374,000, is the most significant area captured by the Taliban since the start of the offensive.

A major commercial center near the border with Tajikistan, Kunduz was briefly seized by the Taliban in 2015 and again in 2016. In both cases, Afghan forces, assisted by American airstrikes, pushed the Taliban out.