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The Taliban are attempting to push and capture three provincial capitals and three of the four biggest cities in Afghanistan – Kandahar, Herat and Laskhar Gah.
Currently, the fight for Helmand Province’s capital – Lashkar Gah – appears to be the most promising for the group.
On August 2nd, the Taliban pressed ahead with their advance in Lashkar Gah capturing 9 out of 10 districts in the city. Majid Akhund, deputy chairman of the Helmand provincial council, confirmed the group’s gains and said that the city’s TV and radio station had also fallen.
Elite commando units were dispatched from Kabul to aid Afghan forces as the government held on to key government buildings, including the local police and army headquarters.
Residents of the city are trapped, hunkered down inside their homes and unable to step out for basic supplies due to the fighting.
Afghan Armed Forces Commander Gen. Sami Sadat, in an audio message, urged residents in neighborhoods captured by the Taliban to evacuate immediately on August 3rd.
The message was an indication that more airstrikes were planned, as Taliban militants are often hiding in civilian houses.
Also on August 3rd, in Herat, the capital of the province by the same name, Afghan forces appeared to be able to push the Taliban back, with the insurgents on the edge of the city. The city’s civilian airport re-opened.
Meanwhile, in Kabul, a civilian protest took place expressing support for Afghanistan’s National Security and in defiance of the Taliban.
Fighting also reached the capital, which had so far been largely out of reach. An explosion rocked the city of Kabul. Unidentified gunmen attacked the house of Afghanistan’s acting defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. A car bomb exploded close to his residence.
According to the reports, the attackers entered the house of the head of the defense department. Gunshots and explosions were heard on the spot. The clashes between militants and Afghan Security Forces continued in the early hours of August 4th.
The United Nations has repeatedly decried the rise in civilian casualties inflicted by both sides in the increasingly brutal conflict. The UN mission appealed for a quick end to the fighting in heavily populated urban areas.
The situation in Afghanistan remains tense, since fierce clashes in strategic provincial capitals all around the country continue.
The Afghan Armed Forces supported by Public Uprising Forces and airstrikes from the US claim some victories, but they are few and far between. Meanwhile, the Taliban have captured scores of districts, and it seems a matter of time until the provincial capitals fall too, starting with Lashkar Gah.