As Battles Rage On The Taliban takes key northern Afghan cities.

As Battles Rage On The Taliban takes key northern Afghan cities.

The Taliban has long considered the city a sought-after prize. It seized Kunduz, at the heart of a major agricultural region near Tajikistan, for around two weeks in 2015 before withdrawing in the face of a NATO-backed Afghan offensive.

The insurgents pushed back into the city center a year later, briefly raising their flag before gradually being driven out again.

In Washington, senior officials from the White House National Security Council, State Department and Defense Department 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.

White House officials in recent days have raised concern about reports of retaliation against civilians in Taliban-controlled areas.

They’ve also condemned last week’s killing of Dawa Khan Menapal, the chief of the Afghan government’s press operations for local and foreign media, and a bombing that targeted acting Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, killing eight and wounding more.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that recent surge in attacks run counter to the “the Taliban claim to want international legitimacy” and offered that the militants “do not have to stay on this trajectory.”

Also Sunday, the Taliban forces overran Taleqan, the capital of Takhar province which lies next to Kunduz, two Afghan lawmakers said.

Takhar, a city of some 200,000, has particular significance for the anti-Taliban northern alliance fighters who joined the U.S.-led coalition to oust the religious militia in 2001.

Taliban fighters seized most of the capital of northern Afghanistan’s key Kunduz province on Sunday, and took another neighboring provincial capital after a monthlong siege.

The advances were the latest in a series of blows to government forces as U.S. troops complete their pullout after nearly two decades in the country.

The militiamen planted their flag in the main square of Kunduz city, where it was seen flying atop a traffic police booth, a video obtained by the Associated Press showed.

It was the fourth provincial capital to largely succumb to Taliban fighters in less than a week, as they ramp up a push across Afghan’s regions, and wage an assassination campaign in the capital, Kabul.

Two provincial council members said the Taliban took control of the governor’s office and police headquarters after a day of firefights, as well as the main prison building, where 500 inmates including Taliban fighters were freed.

Kunduz’s capture would be a significant gain for the Taliban and a test of their ability to take and retain territory in their campaign against the Western-backed government.

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