Taliban seize capital of Afghanistan's Farah Province
Updated 23:05, 10-Aug-2021
Smokes rise from Sheberghan in Jawzjan Province, Afghanistan, August 6, 2021. /Xinhua

Smokes rise from Sheberghan in Jawzjan Province, Afghanistan, August 6, 2021. /Xinhua

The Taliban on Tuesday announced seizing the capital of western Afghanistan's Farah Province, the seventh in less than a week, as tens of thousands of people flee their homes in the north for the relative safety of Kabul and other centers.

A provincial lawmaker told reporters the insurgents had taken Farah City, while a Taliban spokesman posted pictures of fighters walking casually past the gates of the police headquarters and governor's office.

Shahla Abubar, a member of Farah's provincial council, said local security forces retreated towards an army base outside the city.

Five of the other provincial capitals to have fallen since Friday are in the country's north, with the insurgents setting their sights on Mazar-i-Sharif, the region's biggest city. Its fall would signal the total collapse of government control in the traditionally anti-Taliban north, expert said.

Government forces are also battling the Taliban in Kandahar and Helmand, the southern Pashto-speaking provinces from where the Taliban draw their strength.

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The United States – due to complete a troop withdrawal at the end of the month and end its longest war – has all but left the battlefield.

Despite the withdrawal, the Pentagon said on Monday that the U.S. military will continue to support Afghan troops.

"We will continue to support them with the authorities we have, where and when feasible, understanding that it's not always going to be feasible," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters in a briefing. "But where and when feasible, we will continue to support them with airstrikes, for instance."

Washington's special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is in Qatar to try and convince the Taliban to accept a ceasefire. Envoys from hosts Qatar, Britain, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, the United Nations and the European Union were also due to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, a source told reporters.

But even with a new round of talks in the works, Kirby said it was down to the Afghan government and its forces to turn the tide, and there was "not much" the United States could do to help.

(With input from Xinhua, AFP)

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