Taliban Press Ahead With Northern Offensive After Weekend Blitz
Sumaira FH 3 months ago Mon 09th August 2021 | 04:14 PM
The Taliban set their sights on the biggest city in northern Afghanistan Monday after seizing five provincial capitals in a weekend blitz that appeared to overwhelm government forces
Kabul (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 9th Aug, 2021 ) :The Taliban set their sights on the biggest city in northern Afghanistan Monday after seizing five provincial capitals in a weekend blitz that appeared to overwhelm government forces.
A Taliban spokesman said its fighters were moving in on Mazar-i-Sharif, a linchpin of the government's control of the region, after capturing Sheberghan to its west, and Kunduz and Taloqan in the east.
The spokesman said they had entered the city, but officials -- and residents contacted by phone -- said the Taliban were exaggerating, with fighting confined to surrounding districts.
"The enemy is trying to distort public opinion and create anxiety for the civilian population by their propaganda," said a statement from the provincial police force in Balkh, where Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital.
Mazar's longtime strongman Atta Mohammad Noor vowed to fight for the city, saying there would be "resistance until the last drop of my blood".
"I prefer dying in dignity than dying in despair," he tweeted.
"The security situation is not good and we fled to save our lives," Rahmatullah, a 28-year-old resident, told AFP.
"It is like a horror movie," he added.
Both sides routinely exaggerate death tolls that are virtually impossible to verify.
Northern Afghanistan has long been considered an anti-Taliban stronghold that saw some of the stiffest resistance to militant rule in the 1990s.
The region remains home to several militias and is also a fertile recruiting ground for the country's armed forces.
Fighting in Afghanistan's long-running conflict has escalated dramatically since May, when the US-led military coalition began the final stage of a withdrawal set to be completed before the end of the month.
The withdrawal of foreign forces is due to finish at the end of this month ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The US-led invasion sparked by 9/11 toppled the first Taliban regime in 2001.