Ghazni is the capital of the province of the same name and has a population of just under 200,000. The city is strategically located on the main road between the capital, Kabul, and the former Taliban headquarters in Kandahar.
The latest assessment from US intelligence is that Kabul may end up under pressure from the insurgents within 30 days. If the current development continues, the Taliban could take complete control of Afghanistan within a few months, the Americans believe.
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The Taliban posted videos and photos online showing that they had captured Ghazni. Ghazni will be the 10th provincial capital controlled by the Taliban since Friday last week.
The Taliban have taken control of the city’s core areas: the governor’s office, police headquarters and prison, provincial council leader Nasir Ahmad Faqiri told AFP Thursday morning.
He adds that fighting continues in parts of the city, but rebels control most of the city.
The war in Afghanistan has escalated sharply since May, when the United States and NATO began withdrawing their last troops after 20 years of occupation. Tens of thousands were forced to flee, and the fighting required more and more civilian lives.
It also emerged on Thursday that the rebels had captured the police headquarters in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand.
Government forces are surrounded but still hope to take control of Askar Gah.
At the same time, new air strikes were reported in a number of places in Afghanistan during the night.
Representative Nassima Niazi of Helmand criticizes the ongoing airstrikes that she believes have killed civilians in Lashkar Gah.
“The Taliban used civilian homes to protect themselves, and the government carried out the attacks without taking civilians into account,” she added.
The Afghan Air Force has limited capacity, so the US is believed to have carried out several rounds of attacks in support of government forces.
Flight monitoring may indicate that US bombers, fighters and drones were involved in combat in a number of places in Afghanistan Thursday night, according to Australia’s Cavell Group.
The US Air Force Central Command in Qatar has not yet answered AP’s questions about comment.
Earlier, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni said that the city is under attack from several sides. The Ghazni provincial council said on Wednesday that government forces were still in control of intelligence headquarters.
The Taliban’s battlefield success raises questions about whether the insurgent movement will join the long peace talks in Qatar. They can now instead try to seize power through war.
The alternative is for Afghanistan to split into factions fighting each other, which is what happened after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989.
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