Taliban attacks in several provinces are increasing pressure on Afghan government forces. And the airport of the second largest city of Kandahar, on Sunday night, was attacked by several missiles. Fighting also continued in the provinces of Herat in the west and Helmand in the south. After occupying large parts of rural Afghanistan, the Taliban are getting closer to important provincial capitals.
Airport head Masoud Pashtun told AFP that the runway of Kandahar airport was hit by two missiles. All flights departing from the city have been cancelled. Repair work is underway and flight operations are expected to resume on Sunday.
Airport authorities in Kabul confirmed the missile attack. Kandahar Airport plays an essential role in defending the city against the extremist Islamic Taliban movement.
Since the beginning of the complete withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban have occupied large parts of the country. Islamists and government forces have been battling since this week in the outskirts of the capitals of Herat in the west and Lashkar Gah in the south of the country.
Officials and residents of Herat suburbs reported fighting broke out between Afghan government forces and Taliban fighters over the weekend. Hundreds of people fled their homes in search of shelter near the city center. Herat is the third largest city in Afghanistan with a population of 600,000.
Herat Governor Abd al-Sabur Kani declared that most of the fighting broke out in the Indshil and Qusara districts. “We are proceeding with caution to avoid civilian casualties,” he said. In the past few weeks, the Taliban had already reported capturing two border crossings into Iran and Turkmenistan in Herat Province.
On Saturday, government forces launched an air raid on a small hospital in the city of Laskar Gah in southern Helmand province. According to official information, the hospital had previously been taken over by the Taliban. According to a government official, one person was killed and two others were injured in the attacks. The hospital was destroyed.
“The fighting continues in the city, and we have requested reinforcements from the special forces,” Helmand provincial council head Attaullah Afghani told AFP. Halim Karimi, a resident of Lashkar Gah, described the condition of the city as “terrible.” “I don’t know what will happen,” he said.
According to experts, the Taliban’s takeover of one of the main urban centers of Afghanistan would change the dynamics of the conflict in favor of the Islamists. Observers fear that the Taliban may regain control of Afghanistan after the complete withdrawal of NATO forces. Almost half of the four hundred or so provinces in Afghanistan are already under their control. Peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government have stalled in Doha for months.
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