The Taliban have claimed a huge victory after they have seized control of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. This is the first major city to fall to the insurgent group since they began their offensive in May.  This is a big blow to the Afghan government and a symbolic victory for the Taliban as a seemingly unstoppable offensive has captured five provincial capitals in just three days.

Kunduz, a strategic city close to the border with Tajikistan, is an important political and military hub and is a great loss to pro-government forces who retreated to the nearby airport and military base.
“Kunduz provincial capital fell into the hands of Taliban at around 10 am this morning,” (Sunday) a local official said by phone.  “Kunduz city has been under Taliban attack for the past two months. They intensified their attacks on the city from several directions on Friday and they totally captured it today.”

This became possible as foreign forces, led by the United States, complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan.  With a population of 375,000, Kunduz is a significant military prize. Taliban forces also mostly overran the provincial capital city of Sar-e-Pul on Sunday, also in the country’s north, marking another loss for the government amid a series of unprecedented advances by the insurgency in its 20-year war.

The Taliban have seized control of much of rural Afghanistan since international forces began the last state of their withdrawal in early May. The Taliban are now besieging more than a dozen more provincial capitals.

In Washington, senior officials from the White House National Security Council, State Department and Defense Depart-ment were in close contact with U.S. embassy officials in Kabul assessing the broader impact of the fall of Kunduz, according to a senior administration official.  The official was not authorized to comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity.  

But the official indicated that the Biden administration remains determined to stick to its plan to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan by the end of the month, despite the Taliban’s rapid strategic gains.

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