After Herat, Taliban capture Afghan cities Kandahar, Lashkar Gahtext_fields
Kabul: After several key provincial capitals, Afghan's major southern city of Lashkar Gah has also fallen to the Taliban forces. The Taliban's claims to this effect were confirmed by a senior Afghan security source, reported AFP on Friday.
Over the last few days, the Taliban's offensive has resulted in the militants seizing nine other provincial capitals around the country.
Following the attack, military and government officials had evacuated the city after striking a deal with the militants, AFP quoted the security source as saying.
Just weeks before the US forces are set to leave the Afghan soil, and thus to end its longest war, the Taliban have by now seized Kandahar and Herat, two prize cities, with which the Talilban's hold covers 12 of the country's 34 provincial capitals.
Though a Taliban advance had been expected by all parties, the pace at which it is happening has stunned both the government and the US forces.
Also at the background is the olive branch held out by the Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan government, which on Thursday offered to have a power-sharing deal with the advancing Taliban. But Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan ruled out any possibility of the Taliban being prepared to talk to the Afghan government as long as Ghani is the president.
"I tried to persuade the Taliban... three to four months back when they came here," Pakistan's The News International quoted Imran as saying.
"Kandahar is completely conquered. The Mujahideen reached Martyrs' Square in the city," a Taliban spokesman tweeted on an officially recognised account -- a claim backed by a resident, who told AFP that government forces appeared to have withdrawn en masse to a military facility outside the city.
The offensive was launched after the United States and its allies almost completely withdrew its forces from Afghanistan, with President Joe Biden determined to end two decades of war by September 11.