The Taliban seized control of Badakhshan province and its capital city, Faizabad, on Tuesday. The northeastern province served as headquarters to the Northern Alliance prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 – making it one of the seeming opposition strongholds, the latest grim sign in a week full of them for the Afghan government.
The north, where many Afghan power brokers are based, is now in a state of general collapse. Seven of the nine northern provincial capitals are under Taliban control. Only Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh, and Maimana in Faryab remain under Afghan government control. But the Taliban reportedly already entered Maimana and that capital may go under at any time. And Mazar-i-Sharif has been under siege for days.
In all, nine of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban in the past five days. On Aug. 6, the capital of the southwestern province of Nimruz, Zaranj, was lost after the governor and security forces abandoned the city. The next day, on Aug. 7, the Taliban seized control of Shibirghan, the capital of the northern province of Jawzjan. The following day, on Aug. 8, the Taliban overran the capitals of Kunduz, Sar-i-Pul, and Takhar provinces, also in the north. On Aug. 9, the Taliban took control of Aybak in Samangan. The Taliban seized control of Farah City in Farah province and Pul-i-Khumri in Baghlan province earlier today.
The Taliban began its assault on Faizabad weeks ago, but intensified its attack last night, hitting the city “from at least 6 directions,” Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary reported. Afghan security forces attempted to hold back the Taliban, but ultimately failed as air support and reinforcements were not provided.
Badakhshan province is now under Taliban control. Twenty-five of the province’s 27 districts, including the capital of Faizabad are Taliban controlled, and the remaining two are contested, according to an ongoing assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan’s districts by FDD’s Long War Journal.
Takhar, which borders Badakhshan to the west, is also fully controlled by the Taliban.
The Taliban now controls five of Afghanistan’s 35 provinces in their entirety, and is continuing its push to reestablish its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by sheer force of arms.