Afghan commandos launched a counterattack around Kunduz on Monday after the Taliban captured the city on Sunday. The Muslim extremists took control of Aybak in northern Samangan province today. That is the sixth capital that has been conquered in four days.
The Taliban are on the rise as the US and NATO withdraw their troops from the country. Last Sunday they took Kunduz, the city where Dutch soldiers were also active, as well as Sar-e-Pul. The provincial capitals Zaranj, Shibirghan and Taleqan are also in the hands of the Muslim extremists.
Afghan troops have now completely withdrawn from Sar-e-Pul province, said Mohammad Noor Rahmani of the provincial government. The Taliban are now said to have targeted northern Mazar-i-Sharif. In Kunduz, Afghan troops are now trying to counterattack the Taliban.
Kunduz residents who fled the city described hearing the sound of guns and explosions almost continuously. Many families, some with young children and pregnant women, have left their homes in hopes of reaching the Afghan capital, Kabul, 315 kilometers south of Kunduz. Police have left the checkpoints around Kunduz.
Dead and wounded
A Taliban spokesman warned the US not to intervene on Sunday. US troops have launched several airstrikes in recent days “to defend Afghan partners,” a spokesman told CNN on Sunday. Where those were performed was not specified.
In western Afghanistan, near the border with Iran, heavy fighting is expected at the town of Herat. Herat Zonal hospital reports that 36 people have been killed and 220 injured in the fighting over the past 11 days. More than half of the injured were civilians, the hospital chief said, and the dead included women and children. UNICEF said it was shocked by the violence: “These atrocities are evidence of the brutal nature and scale of the violence in Afghanistan.”
Taliban forces also allegedly killed an Afghan radio station manager in Kabul and kidnapped a journalist in southern Helmand province. The advance of the Taliban has led to criticism of the withdrawal of US troops. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told the Daily Mail that the deal signed by the US and the Taliban last year was a ‘rotten deal’.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called the deal “the beginning of the end”. She rejected calls to send German troops back to Afghanistan. “The reports about Kunduz and all of Afghanistan are bitter and hurt a lot,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Twitter. “Are our society and parliament prepared to send armed troops into war, and stay there for at least a generation? no, then withdrawing is still the right decision.” Germany had the largest military force in the country after the US.
The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Greece have written to the European Commission that they wish to retain the option of forcibly deporting Afghan asylum seekers to their country of origin. An agreement on migration concluded with Afghans earlier this year should be maintained and the European Commission should advocate for it with Afghans.
In early July, the Afghan government sent a message to the Commission that it would stop taking back forcibly returned asylum seekers for a period of three months. But the agreement between the EU and Afghanistan does not provide for such a unilateral suspension at all, the member states say. A new analysis is currently being made of the security situation in the country. It is expected in October.
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