Afghan conflict: Taliban control all key cities except Kabul (2024)

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Afghan conflict: Taliban control all key cities except Kabul (1)Image source, Getty Images

The Taliban have moved closer to retaking full control of Afghanistan, with the capital Kabul now the only major city left in government hands.

On Sunday the militants took control of Jalalabad, a key eastern city, without a fight.

It means they now control all roads to neighbouring Pakistan.

Correspondents in the capital say there are queues at the airport with people trying to flee, and some shops and government offices have been evacuated.

The Taliban has ordered their fighters to stay at entry points to the capital, urging people to stay in the country.

Talks with senior officials in President Ashraf Ghani's government on a peaceful transfer of power continued, its statement said.

In other developments:

  • The government's last northern bastion, Mazar-i-Sharif, fell on Saturday - largely without a fight

  • The US is evacuating staff from its Kabul embassy - with people seen boarding military planes at the airport, where 5,000 US troops have been deployed to help with the operation

  • President Joe Biden has defended his decision to speed up the US withdrawal, saying he could not justify an "endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict".

What happened in Jalalabad?

Reports on Sunday morning said the Taliban overran the city, the capital of Nangarhar province, without a shot being fired.

"There are no clashes taking place right now in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban," a local Afghan official told Reuters news agency.

"Allowing passage to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives."

Journalist Tariq Ghazniwal tweeted images that appeared to show the provincial governor handing over control to the Taliban.

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  • EXPLAINER: Why the Taliban is gaining ground so quickly

  • FEATURE: Afghans living under Taliban lament loss of freedoms

  • PROFILE: Who are the Taliban?

The capture of Jalalabad means the Taliban have secured the roads connecting the country with Pakistan.

What's happening in Kabul?

Wall Street Journal correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov in Kabul told the BBC World Service that sporadic shooting could be heard.

He says people are withdrawing money from ATMs, the Green Zone, where diplomatic missions are based, is emptying out, and flights out the country are fully booked.

Part of the Taliban's tactic seemed to be to have fighters already within cities incognito.

"The Taliban is not sending in armoured columns to take Kabul, they are already in the city… ready to pop up. That's what happened in other cities like Herat, where fighting suddenly started from within the city centre," Trofimov said.

More than a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the fighting and many have sought refuge in the capital.

Some who had fled areas controlled by the Taliban said militants there were demanding that families hand over unmarried girls and women to become wives for their fighters.

Muzhda, 35, a single woman who fled from Parwan to Kabul with her two sisters, said she would rather take her own life than let the Taliban force her to marry.

"I am crying day and night," she told AFP news agency.

Women from Taliban-held areas have also described being forced to wear burkas - one-piece veils that cover the face and body - and militants are reported to have beaten people for breaking social rules.

One 17-year-old, named as Abdullah, told AFP news agency that he and his family had fled the northern city of Kunduz after it was seized by the Taliban and were now sleeping under a tent in a Kabul park.

He said he and other youths in Kunduz had been forced into carrying rocket-propelled grenades and other munitions for the militants.

Image source, AFP

In a pre-recorded TV address on Saturday, President Ghani said a priority was the remobilisation of the Afghan armed forces to prevent further destruction and displacement of people.

The speech came amid speculation by some that Mr Ghani might have been about to announce his resignation.

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Related Topics

  • Kabul
  • Afghanistan
  • Ashraf Ghani
Afghan conflict: Taliban control all key cities except Kabul (2024)


What countries does the Taliban occupy? ›

The Taliban are a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group that returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021 after waging a twenty-year insurgency.

Who does the Taliban persecute? ›

The Taliban's ideology and model of governance is based on gender-based persecution. Since August 2021, the Taliban has issued more than one hundred and fifty decrees and more than eighty of them are directed toward banning and limiting women's access to their most fundamental rights.

Who are the Taliban and what do they want? ›

The Taliban is a Sunni Islamist nationalist and pro-Pashtun movement founded in the early 1990s that ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 until October 2001.

What countries have tried to conquer Afghanistan? ›

History of Afghanistan
  • Persian conquests.
  • Greek, Indian and Kushan Conquests.
  • Conquest by Arab Caliphate.
  • Mongol Conquests.
  • Conquest by Tamerlane and Mughal Empire.
  • The Sikh Empire invasion, 1837–1838.
  • British invasions: 1838–1842, 1878–1880 and 1919.
  • Soviet invasions: 1929, 1930 and 1979.

Which countries recognize the Taliban rule? ›

Since the Fall of Kabul in 2021 until the Chinese recognition in 2024, no country has recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Does the US recognize Taliban Afghanistan? ›

The United States does not recognize the Taliban or any other entity as the government of Afghanistan and reports there are no U.S. diplomatic or military personnel in the country. The Taliban government is dominated by officials from the Taliban's prior rule or longtime loyalists.

How does the Taliban treat females? ›

Upon seizing power, the Taliban regime instituted a system of gender apartheid effectively thrusting the women of Afghanistan into a state of virtual house arrest. Under Taliban rule women were stripped of all human rights – their work, visibility, opportunity for education, voice, healthcare, and mobility.

Who runs Afghanistan now? ›

Political situation

The Taliban de facto authorities have been in control of Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul on 15 August 2021. The Taliban regime is led by Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada from the city of Kandahar with the ministries continuing to be based in Kabul, the capital.

Are there Christians in Afghanistan? ›

Christians have historically comprised a small community in Afghanistan. The total number of Christians in Afghanistan is currently estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000 according to International Christian Concern. Almost all Afghan Christians are converts from Islam.

What is the ultimate goal of the Taliban? ›

What Is the Goal of the Taliban? Speaking to Newsweek, Dr. Thomas Barfield, the author of Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, said: "They [the Taliban] want to rule an Islamic State in Afghanistan using conservative rules, I do not believe that [they] have an ultimate goal beyond that."

What does "taliban" mean in Arabic? ›

The word Taliban comes from tālib, "student" in Arabic, as the group was started by Pakistani religious school students in the mid-1990s.

Who do the Taliban recruit? ›

During the conflict, the Taliban typically recruited unemployed Pashtun males from rural communities who were educated and trained in Afghans and Pakistanis madrassas, mosques and camps. It was reported that they had no shortage of volunteers and recruits.

What is the old name of Afghanistan? ›

During the medieval period, the northwestern area of Afghanistan was referred to by the regional name Khorasan, which was commonly used up to the 19th century among natives to describe their country.

What is the nickname of Afghanistan? ›

The graveyard of empires is a sobriquet often associated with Afghanistan.

Who defeated Afghanistan in history? ›

Though the Sikhs captured and plundered Lahore, the Afghans recaptured Lahore in 1761, but just within a couple of months, in May 1761, the Sikh army defeated the Afghan army, led by Ahmad Shah's governor of the Chahar Mahal, followed with defeat and surrender of relief party sent from Kandahar.

Are Isis and Taliban the same? ›

Local groups are usually inevitably used to serve grand strategies. From this particular point of view, the Taliban, ISIS and others are identical. But upon closer examination, there is a clear difference between the Taliban and ISIS. ISIS is not formally sponsored by any regional or international power.

How many Taliban were killed in Afghanistan? ›

Dead: 52,893+ killed (estimate, no official data). The insurgency had spread to some degree over the border to neighboring Pakistan, in particular Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Taliban conducted warfare against Afghan National Security Forces and their NATO allies, as well as against civilian targets.

What does the Taliban flag mean? ›

Symbolism of the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

The white stands for "the (Islamic Movement of Taliban's) purity of faith and government"; the flag incorporated the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith, after 1997.

Why does the Taliban restrict women's rights? ›

The Taliban disagreed with past Afghan statutes that allowed the employment of Afghan women in a mixed sex workplace. The claim was that this was a breach of purdah and Sharia law. On 30 September 1996, the Taliban decreed that all women should be banned from employment.

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