Afghanistan: ‘Thousands displaced’ to Kabul reveals expert
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Meanwhile Tory MP Tobias Ellwood has pleaded with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rally allies to step in to prevent a complete takeover by the radical Islamist group. The speed of the Taliban advance – they have captured eight provincial capitals in less than a week and are threatening to take at least three more – has sparked widespread recriminations against Mr Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops and leave the Afghan government to fight alone.
President Biden said on Tuesday he did not regret his decision to withdraw and urged Afghan leaders to fight for their homeland.
In Washington, a US defence official on Wednesday cited U.S. intelligence as saying the Taliban could isolate Kabul in 30 days and possibly take it over within 90, following their recent rapid gains.
He stressed: “But this is not a foregone conclusion.”
The Afghan security forces could reverse the momentum by putting up more resistance, he insisted.
Earlier this week Mr Ellwood tweeted: “It’s not too late for a coalition to remain to avoid a civil war.
“But it should be the PM making the calls to allies and the Foreign Secretary rallying nations at the UN Security Council.
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The Taliban control about two-thirds of Afghanistan, with the last of the US-led international forces set to leave by the end of the month, and their guerrilla army has waged war on multiple fronts, resulting in thousands of families fleeing the provinces in hope of finding safety in Kabul.
An aid worker in the southern city of Kandahar said: “Fighting did not stop until 4 am and then after the first prayers it started up again.”
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Fighting has been intense in Kandahar city, a doctor based in the southern province said earlier. The city hospital had received scores of bodies of members of the armed forces and some wounded Taliban.
The Taliban said they had captured Kandahar’s provincial prison, Ghazni city, 150 km southwest of Kabul, and airports outside the cities of Kunduz and Sheberghan in the north and Farah in the west, cutting off supply routes for government forces.
Faizabad city, in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, on Wednesday became the eighth provincial capital to be seized by the Taliban.
President Ashraf Ghani flew to Mazar-i-Sharif to rally old warlords to the defence of the biggest city in the north as Taliban forces closed in.
All gateways to Kabul, which lies on a plain surrounded by mountains, were choked with civilians fleeing violence, a Western security source said, adding there was a risk Taliban fighters could be among them.
He added: “The fear is of suicide bombers entering the diplomatic quarters to scare, attack and ensure everyone leaves at the earliest opportunity.”
A new generation of Afghans, who have come of age since 2001, is worried the progress made in areas such as women’s rights and media freedom will be lost.
The United Nations said more than 1,000 civilians had been killed in the past month.
Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross said since August 1, 4,042 wounded people had been treated at 15 health facilities.
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