The armed group claimed that the Taliban had occupied Kunduz, the third capital city it had occupied in the past three days.

The Taliban issued a statement on Sunday saying that it had occupied the city’s police headquarters, governor’s compound and prison.

Local sources and reporters in Kunduz confirmed to Al Jazeera that there are Taliban fighters in the capital.

“Intense clashes broke out yesterday afternoon. All government headquarters are under the control of the Taliban. Only the army base and the airport and the ANDSF [Afghan security forces] Where did they resist the Taliban,” said Amrudddin Wali, a member of the Kunduz Provincial Assembly.

Health officials in Kunduz said that 14 bodies including women and children and more than 30 injured people have been taken to the hospital.

“We don’t know what’s going on outside, because all our efforts and attention are focused on the incoming patients,” a doctor at Kunduz Hospital told Al Jazeera.

Sunday’s acquisition is after the group Capture the provinces of Nimruz and Jozcan In the last two days.

Kunduz had previously joined the group in 2015 and 2016.

According to the deputy governor of the Taliban, on the second day of “surrendering without a fight” in Zaranji, the capital of Nimruz, the Taliban occupied Shebergan, the capital of Jazjan, said the deputy governor of the city.

The Ministry of Defense said that on Saturday night, American B-52 bombers attacked several Taliban targets in Shebergan.

“It feels like a military city”

A resident told Al Jazeera that people in Kunduz tried to flee before the Taliban arrived, but were still afraid to leave their homes.

“Although the fighting has subsided, it still feels like a military city,” the resident said, referring to the presence of Taliban forces in key areas of the city and the Afghan defense and security forces operating in the city.

Afghanistan Ministry of Defense Released A video from the Afghan commando stated that ANDSF had been conducting coordinated operations in the province for the past 24 hours.

The commando said in the video that the Taliban suffered heavy casualties in these operations because they “try to occupy key points in the province”, adding that the armed group’s “dream” will not be realized.

“You should make sure that the Afghan army is with you,” the commando told the Kunduz people.

Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Baylis reported from the capital Kabul: “A reporter in downtown Kunduz told us that the Taliban had taken over the office of the Chief of Police and the Office of the Election Commission, and the Taliban flag was flying at the central roundabout.”

“The government denies that Kunduz has fallen, but from all angles, it has fallen,” she added.

Although the Taliban have occupied two provincial capitals since Friday, when foreign troops begin the final phase of withdrawing from the country, the northernmost Kunduz will be the most important fall since the armed group launched its offensive in May. .

Since launching a series of offensives in May, the Taliban have occupied vast areas of rural Afghanistan to coincide with the beginning of the withdrawal.

In southern Kandahar and the capital of Helmand province, fierce fighting continues, and the Taliban have been trying to take over these provinces for several weeks.

“We have the ability to take over cities, but we have been waiting for them. Our policy is for peace and reconciliation, but of course when they [government] Attacked us, they started bombing us, we reacted and occupied two provincial centers, but our policy is still to negotiate the settlement of Afghanistan,” Taliban International Media spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Al Jazeera.

“If they focus on military strategy and military offensive, then we will have a response. But this is not our choice or policy. Our policy is to resolve the issue of Afghanistan peacefully,” he added.

On Sunday, members of the Helmand Provincial Assembly said that government airstrikes had damaged a clinic and high school in the capital, Rashkar Gah.

The Ministry of Defense statement also confirmed that 54 Taliban fighters were killed and 23 others were injured in air strikes in parts of the city.

It did not mention that clinics or schools were bombed.

On Saturday, the US Embassy issued a statement condemning Taliban invaded provincial centers in the south and north.

“We condemn the Taliban’s new violent offensive against the Afghan cities. This includes the illegal seizure of Zaranje, the capital of Afghanistan’s Nimruz Province, the attack yesterday and today on Shebe Khan, the capital of Jozjan Province, and continued efforts to take over Helmand and Helmand. Rashkar Gah in other provincial capitals,” the statement read.

Dostum: “It’s time to fight the enemy”

Sheberghan is the home of the notorious strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum, who returned to Afghanistan only this week after receiving treatment in Turkey.

Dostum oversees one of the largest militia groups in the north, which gained a terrible reputation during the fighting with the Taliban in the 1990s-and was accused of slaughtering thousands of prisoners of war by his troops.

On Saturday, Dostum met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace. A palace statement quoted Dostum as saying, “Now is the time to fight side by side with the security forces and “confront the enemy.”

Any retreat by the Dostum fighters would weaken the government’s recent hope that the militia can help support the country’s over-stretched army.

In Zaranji, social media posts hinted that the Taliban were welcomed by some residents.

They displayed captured military vehicles, luxury SUVs and pickup trucks speeding down the streets, flying white Taliban flags, and residents-mainly young people-cheering for them.

“Due to the strong propaganda of the Taliban, the morale of the Afghan security forces is low,” a senior city official who asked not to be named told AFP. “Even before the Taliban attack…Most security forces put their weapons on the ground, took off their uniforms, and fled the troops.”

Officials said that when entering Zaranji, the fighters opened the gate of the city prison and released Taliban prisoners and ordinary criminals.

Additional report by Ali Latifi in Kabul





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