The Taliban has now recaptured Herat, Afghanistan, the country’s third largest city.
The move ramps up tensions as Afghanistan’s nearby capital Kabul is made vulnerable by the growing strength of the Taliban in the region. The seizure comes mere weeks before the American military had planned to end its military mission in Afghanistan.
The recapture of the western Afghanistan city furthers a huge amount of momentum for the Taliban, who have seized 11 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals in the past week. The Taliban descended on the Great Mosque in the city this Thursday.
The northwest provincial capital Qala-I-Naw city has also been taken over as of this evening. Ghazni, a crucial strategic city directly in the path to Kabul, was surrendered today as well. Although Kabul has not yet been raided, the current presence in neighboring cities shifts power over to the Taliban, who are currently controlling over half of the country.
The resulting situation has led to a widespread scramble between Afghan citizens, residents of Kabul, and the United States’ military and diplomatic presence in the country. The U.S. Defense Department has previously spent over $830 billion on combatting the Taliban, training troops, and rebuilding damaged areas.
The US’ response to the Taliban’s activity in Afghanistan
The US is now preparing for Kabul to be taken over by the Taliban in the next 30 to 60 days. America is currently making plans to move its embassy and diplomats to another location, possibly the Kabul airport. The embassy made an official announcement on Thursday imploring US citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country as soon as possible.
The country’s civilians — for whom it is almost impossible to leave — have been of growing concern. Wazhma Frogh, founder of the Women and Peace Studies Organization, told CNN on Wednesday that over 60,000 families have become homeless in their attempt to escape the unrest in Afghanistan.
“These are families with small children, 2-year, 3-year, 4-year old who are sleeping on the streets …these are families who are farmers, this is the time of harvest in Afghanistan. They have lost all that,” said Frogh.