Afghanistan: Taliban races toward Kabul as more cities fall
The Taliban is now just 50 kilometers away from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, as more cities fell to the insurgents in quick succession. The terror group is currently in control of a major part of the war-torn country even as the United States and its allies move ahead with their plan to withdraw troops after nearly two decades.
Pul-e-Alam, close to Kabul, fell to Taliban yesterday
Pul-e-Alam, the capital of the Logar province situated close to Kabul, was seized by the Taliban on Friday. Before that, the group had captured Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan, marking a huge gain for itself and a jolt to the sitting government. These developments leave only Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, and some smaller territories in the hands of President Ashraf Ghani-led government.
UN chief urges Taliban to end violence and negotiate
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged the Taliban to stop violence across Afghanistan and negotiate "in good faith." Guterres said he was "deeply disturbed by early indications that the Taliban is imposing severe restrictions in the areas under their control, particularly targeting women and journalists." Over 1,000 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in recent clashes.
Canada to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees
Separately, Canada has announced that it will take in 20,000 refugees from Afghanistan, who are under direct threat from the rapid Taliban advance. The focus would be on vulnerable groups such as women leaders, human rights workers, and reporters, according to the Canadian government.
'Won't accept government imposed by force': US and other countries
In a joint statement, a dozen nations, including the US and India, said they would not recognize any government in Afghanistan imposed by force. Other countries which were part of that declaration are Qatar, China, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. Representatives from these countries held a conclave on Thursday to discuss ways to check the situation in Afghanistan.
US troop withdrawal to complete before 9/11 anniversary
The situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated dramatically since May, when the US and its allies began pulling out troops from the country after 20 years of war. The withdrawal exercise is set to be completed in a matter of weeks, and US officials assert the decision is final. US troops had invaded Afghanistan in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on American soil.