Afghanistan: Taliban take over TV station in strategic city
The Helmand TELEVISION station, situated in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, is run by state-run Radio and Tv Afghanistan. Regional reporters in Lashkar Gah state there is absolutely nothing presently being relayed over the station.
In a text to CNN, Taliban representative Zabiullah Mujahid stated the group has actually taken control of the station.
Over the previous 72 hours, United States airstrikes have actually targeted Taliban positions around the cities of Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, the authorities stated.
“They strike multiple times when the Taliban try to enter the city,” the authorities stated, including that the 3 cities were thought about “endangered” by Taliban advances.
The weekend saw heavy combating in between the Taliban and Afghan federal government forces in Lashkar Gah. The Taliban now manage numerous districts of the city, according to regional reporters called by CNN.
Lashkar Gah rests on tactical paths in all instructions, consisting of the highway in between Kandahar and Herat and essential farming locations to the south of the city. The Taliban has long had a strong existence in Helmand province, consisting of around the capital, however has actually not inhabited any part of the capital considering that being toppled in 2001.
The Afghan military strengthened its existence in the city on Saturday, generating unique forces, according to a tweet from the 215 Corps, an army system. It likewise performed airstrikes versus Taliban positions.
If Lashkar Gah were to be up to the Taliban it would be the very first of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals to be lost by the federal government. However numerous others are surrounded by the Taliban, which likewise manages numerous significant highways throughout Afghanistan.
The province of Herat — in northwest Afghanistan — is another area that has seen heavy fighting. The Ministry of Defense tweeted Sunday: “Hundreds of special forces arrived in Herat province! These forces will increase offensive operations and suppress the Taliban in Herat. The security situation in the province will improve soon.”
In an apparent acknowledgment of the seriousness of the situation in Herat, the Ministry of the Interior said that the deputy interior minister General Abdul Rahman Rahman had arrived there with police special forces.
Videos that appeared Saturday indicate that the Taliban now control the road linking the capital — likewise called Herat — with its airport. A local journalist told CNN Sunday that the Taliban has control of much of Goazara district near the airport, and has also taken Karoakh to the east.
The airport itself remains in government hands.
US withdraws, Taliban steps in
After nearly 20 years in Afghanistan, the US military, at President Joe Biden’s direction, is in the final stages of withdrawing troops from the country, bringing an end to America’s longest war.
The Pentagon has said about 95% of US troops have left and the Taliban have rapidly expanded their presence to large swaths of country. The speed at which Afghan security forces have lost control to the Taliban has shocked many and led to concerns that the capital, Kabul, could be next to fall. All foreign forces are expected to leave Afghanistan by August 31.
According to the Long War Journal, a US nonprofit that tracks control of territory in Afghanistan, the Taliban now manages 13 of 16 districts in Herat province. Most of its gains came in the month of July.
Nationwide, the Taliban controls 223 districts, with 116 contested and the government holding 68, according to the Long War Journal, whose calculations tally with CNN’s estimates. It says 17 of 34 provincial capitals are directly threatened by the Taliban.
The vast majority of Taliban gains have come since the US drawdown of forces began in May, after President Biden’s announcement that all US combat forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of August.
Bill Roggio, who edits the Long War Journal, said Saturday that “the withdrawal of US air assets, which provided more than 80% of the combat power to battle the Taliban, and civilian contractors to provide maintenance, along with combat attrition, has put an enormous strain on the Afghan Air Force.”
The worsening security situation throughout Afghanistan in the wake of foreign troop withdrawal and Taliban advances, has actually forced an estimated 294,000 from their homes considering that January, the United Nations Refugee Company (UNHCR) reported on July 21, bringing the overall internally displaced to more than 3.5 million.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.