Taliban take over TV station in strategic city as US airstrikes pound key positions in Afghanistan

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The Helmand TV station, situated within the metropolis of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, is operated by state-run Radio and Tv Afghanistan. Native journalists in Lashkar Gah say there’s nothing at the moment being broadcast over the station.

In a textual content message to CNN, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid mentioned the group has taken over the station.

The incident comes as the USA has ramped up airstrikes in opposition to the Taliban in a bid to show again the militants’ advances on a variety of key provincial capitals in Afghanistan, a senior Afghan safety official mentioned Monday.

Over the previous 72 hours, US airstrikes have focused Taliban positions across the cities of Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah, the official mentioned.

“They strike a number of instances when the Taliban attempt to enter town,” the official mentioned, including that the three cities had been thought-about “endangered” by Taliban advances.

American officers have just lately confirmed that US airstrikes are lively in Afghanistan once more, but declined to supply particulars of the targets.

The weekend noticed heavy combating between the Taliban and Afghan authorities forces in Lashkar Gah. The Taliban now management a number of districts of town, in keeping with native journalists contacted by CNN.

Lashkar Gah sits on strategic routes in all instructions, together with the freeway between Kandahar and Herat and necessary agricultural areas to the south of town. The Taliban has lengthy had a powerful presence in Helmand province, together with across the capital, however has not occupied any a part of the capital since being overthrown in 2001.

The Afghan navy bolstered its presence within the metropolis on Saturday, bringing in particular forces, in keeping with a tweet from the 215 Corps, a military unit. It additionally carried out airstrikes in opposition to Taliban positions.

Taliban threaten to seize first provincial capital as fighting intensifies across Afghanistan

If Lashkar Gah had been to fall to the Taliban it could be the primary of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals to be misplaced by the federal government. However a number of others are surrounded by the Taliban, which additionally controls a number of main highways throughout Afghanistan.

The province of Herat — in northwest Afghanistan — is one other space that has seen heavy combating. The Ministry of Protection tweeted Sunday: “Lots of of particular forces arrived in Herat province! These forces will enhance offensive operations and suppress the Taliban in Herat. The safety scenario within the province will enhance quickly.”

In an obvious acknowledgment of the seriousness of the scenario in Herat, the Ministry of the Inside mentioned that the deputy inside minister Common Abdul Rahman Rahman had arrived there with police particular forces.

Movies that appeared Saturday point out that the Taliban now management the street linking the capital — additionally known as Herat — with its airport. A neighborhood journalist instructed CNN Sunday that the Taliban has management of a lot of Goazara district close to the airport, and has additionally taken Karoakh to the east.

The airport itself stays in authorities arms.

US withdraws, Taliban steps in

After practically 20 years in Afghanistan, the US navy, at President Joe Biden’s route, is within the closing phases of withdrawing troops from the nation, bringing an finish to America’s longest warfare.

The Pentagon has mentioned about 95% of US troops have left and the Taliban have quickly expanded their presence to giant swaths of nation. The pace at which Afghan safety forces have misplaced management to the Taliban has shocked many and led to issues that the capital, Kabul, may very well be subsequent to fall. All overseas forces are anticipated to depart Afghanistan by August 31.

US general vows to continue airstrikes supporting Afghan troops fighting Taliban

In accordance with the Lengthy Battle Journal, a US nonprofit that tracks management of territory in Afghanistan, the Taliban now controls 13 of 16 districts in Herat province. Most of its beneficial properties got here within the month of July.

Nationwide, the Taliban controls 223 districts, with 116 contested and the federal government holding 68, in keeping with the Lengthy Battle Journal, whose calculations tally with CNN’s estimates. It says 17 of 34 provincial capitals are instantly threatened by the Taliban.

The overwhelming majority of Taliban beneficial properties have come for the reason that US drawdown of forces started in Might, after President Biden’s announcement that each one US fight forces would depart Afghanistan by the top of August.

Invoice Roggio, who edits the Lengthy Battle Journal, mentioned Saturday that “the withdrawal of US air belongings, which offered greater than 80% of the fight energy to battle the Taliban, and civilian contractors to supply upkeep, together with fight attrition, has put an unlimited pressure on the Afghan Air Drive.”

The worsening safety scenario throughout Afghanistan within the wake of overseas troop withdrawal and Taliban advances, has compelled an estimated 294,000 from their houses since January, the United Nations Refugee Company (UNHCR) reported on July 21, bringing the entire internally displaced to greater than 3.5 million.

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