Taliban surround large Afghan cities and are ready for a showdown when US troops are gone
Kabul – President Biden should speak about the situation in on Thursdayas America’s involvement in its longest war comes to an end. Mr Biden is expected to say that the has been completed, but a force of around 1,000 soldiers will remain in the country to ensure the safety of the US embassy and Kabul international airport.
But the Taliban fighters, against whom the US fought for two decades, are now pushing into provincial cities and bringing their struggle with the Afghan security forces ever closer to the regional capitals.
Afghan commandos were back on patrol in the capital of Badghis province in western Afghanistan on Thursday – just a day after repelling Taliban fighters who tried to storm the city.
Unconfirmed videos posted on social media apparently showed Taliban fighters spinning on motorcycles towards the center of the city of Qala-i-Naw. Amid the chaos, the local prison was jailbroken.
The provincial governor tried to reassure the residents under still fierce shots: “Keep your composure and I promise you, we will defend the city.”
The fight was the closest the Taliban had had since the fall of a provincial capital in 2015, and it was part of an offensive in which the insurgents swept across the country at lightning speed.
Amid widespread surrenders, desertions and mass withdrawals by Afghan soldiers – including more than 1,000 who fled across the border into neighboring Tajikistan – National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib insisted earlier this week that his troops had begun returning to their posts.
“They are being brought back. The people are standing,” he told reporters. “There is war, there is pressure. Sometimes things work our way, sometimes they don’t.”
Defense officials tell CBS News that the Taliban are currently encircling provincial capitals like Qala-i-Naw, waiting for US forces to leave and reducing the risk of immediate air strikes to rescue the Afghan forces.
Afghan troops have moved to defend the cities, setting the stage for a showdown.