On Monday, Taliban forces took over a key district in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan and surrounded the provincial capital. The rebellious group added to its recent battleground victories while peace dialogs have deadlocked. The gains of the Taliban came as the Pentagon reiterated the United States troop removal was still on pace to complete by 11th September.
Fighting around Imam Sahib district started late Sunday, and the Taliban overrun the district headquarters by midday Monday and were in control of police headquarters, according to the statement of provisional police spokesperson Inamuddin Rahmani. Taliban fighters were within o.6 miles (one kilometer), the provisional capital but not procced into the city, even though there were reports of small bands of Taliban militants near the borders and citizens trying to leave for Kabul.
Taliban fighters took control of a key district in northern Kunduz province. the district is strategically located near Afghanistan’s northern border with Tajikistan. the district is strategically located near the northern border with Tajikistan. #Taliban
— Madhav (@madhavketan612) June 22, 2021
Since 1st May, several districts fell to the Taliban control when the United States and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces started their concluding departure from Afghanistan. Furthermore, just like the Imam Sahib district in northern Kunduz, the significance of the Taliban usually lies in their proximity to major cities and roads. In addition, Imam Sahib tactically located neighboring the northern border of Afghanistan with Tajikistan, a major supply route from Central Asia.
In the Latest Round of Fighting Several Districts in Kunduz fallen into Taliban Hands
Rahmani said that Afghan National Army troops and police had mutually tried to defend the district. However, he said it was still unclear that how many casualties the Defense Forces and Afghan National Security suffered in the prolonged fight or how many Taliban fighters wounded or killed. Zabihullah Mujahed, the spokesperson of the Taliban, confirmed Imam Sahib district was in the hands of the Taliban.
Taliban also took control of many other districts in Kunduz in the latest round of fighting. During the last some days, the insurgent group took control of many districts of the three northern provinces of Kunduz, Balkh, and Baghlan. A witness said significantly that the Doshi district in Baghlan province was in the control of the Taliban, and if it is true, then it gives them complete control of the one road that links five northern provinces to Kabul.
The Taliban group also circulated videos on WhatsApp groups and their websites, which reveal that government soldiers and police officers are surrendering, and the Taliban told them to return their homes. Moreover, the videos show that soldiers are receiving money from the Taliban. Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhunzada, the Taliban leader, stated on Sunday that to order his fighters to treat well and show good behavior to those who surrender.
However, the fighting between the Taliban and the government is severe in some districts of the province, with both sides facing casualties. According to an anonymous police official, the policemen fighting in the districts are primarily from low-income families. Those families still remained poor; instead, the U.S. spent trillions of dollars in Afghanistan in the last twenty years.
Withdrawal of Taliban Forces will Finish by 11th September
The steady removal of the remaining twenty-five hundred to thirty-five hundred American soldiers and seven thousand NATO forces resulted in Taliban gains and lent an insistence to efforts to find a negotiated end to the prolonged conflict of Afghanistan. Furthermore, on Monday, John Kirby, the press secretary of the Pentagon, said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin often reviewed the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan and said the withdrawal is on pace and will conclude by early September.
The press secretary is reviewing the situation on a daily basis. Furthermore, the officials said that the needs of the State Department for embassy security and its decisions about Afghans and interpreters who worked with the American forces out of the country. Dialogues between the Taliban and the government taking place in Qatar have stopped at a deadlocked. Whereas Taliban leaders announce that they are ready to negotiate, sources familiar with the dialogues say the Taliban movement looks more concerned to score military gains hoping to support their negotiating stance.
Later this week, the United States President Joe Biden will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the head of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, which oversees the negotiation team of the government. According to the statement of the White House, Friday’s meeting in Washington aimed to reaffirm the humanitarian and financial aid of America to support the Afghan people, including minorities, women, and girls.
On Monday, Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, said that their dialog would also continue to discuss how they can work together for the assurance that Afghanistan will never become a haven for terrorist groups like the Taliban, who pose a threat to the United States homeland.