The Taliban”s advance continued in Afghanistan as the armed group captured Kandahar on Thursday, the country’s second-largest city.
The insurgents had previously taken control of Herat and the strategic city of Ghazni earlier, cutting a crucial highway link between Kabul and the south.
Taliban fighters have been advancing rapidly across Afghanistan seizing more than a dozen provincial capitals in a week.
While Kabul isn’t directly under threat yet, the losses and the battles elsewhere further tighten the grip of a resurgent Taliban.
The militants are now thought to control two-thirds of the country only weeks before the complete withdrawal of US and NATO troops.
John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, announced that Washington will send 3,000 troops to evacuate personnel from the US embassy in Kabul, while many western countries have asked their nationals to leave the country.
“The first movement will consist of three infantry battalions that are currently in the Central Command area of responsibility. They will move to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul within the next 24 to 48 hours. Two of those battalions are the United States Marines and one is the U.S. Army battalion,” Kirby said.
Separately, Britain said about 600 troops would be deployed on a short-term basis to support British nationals leaving the country.
Hopes for diplomatic solution are slowly fading
The new conquests come as a crushing blow for the government and a major win for the militants, as hopes for a diplomatic solution slowly fade.
Thousands of Afghans continue to flee their homes as they fear the armed group will again impose a brutal and repressive regime.
Meanwhile representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government are still holding talks in Qatar.
“We hope that the discussions this week in Doha between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban along with regional and international envoys will restore the pathway to a negotiated settlement to the conflict,” said Stephane Dujarric, the UN secretary-general spokesperson.
The latest US military intelligence assessment estimates that Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that the Taliban could gain full control of the country within a few months.
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