Taliban overrun Herat City, Qala-i-Naw

The Taliban continues its blitzkrieg assault across Afghanistan, overrunning two additional provincial capitals today, including Herat City, one of the largest in Afghansitan.

The Taliban took full control of Herat City in Herat province and Qala-i-Naw in neighboring Badghis province after days of fighting. The Taliban intensified attacks on both cities yesterday, and defenses collapsed today. Ismail Khan the once powerful warlord who ruled Herat City, fled the city before it was overrun. The Taliban also overran the strategic Shindand air base in Herat province.

Herat City is the Taliban’s biggest victory since it began taking control of provincial capitals in late July. Herat City is a major commercial hub and the country’s fourth largest city. Ismail Khan, a longtime enemy of the Taliban, fled the city, giving the Taliban major propaganda win.

The loss of Herat City is a major blow to the reeling Afghan government, which has lost control of 12 provincial capitals and 9 provinces over the course of one week.

Western Afghanistan is fully under Taliban control. Over the past week, the Taliban took control of Farah and Nimruz provinces. With control of the west, the Taliban can now divert troops and resources to the sieges of Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, and Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh.

The Taliban took control of three provincial capitals today. Ghazni City, a key city in the southeast and a major hub for Al Qaeda, fell earlier today.

The Taliban took its first city, Zaranj, the capital of the southwestern province of Nimruz, on Aug. 6 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 has also seized control of Farah City in Farah province and Pul-i-Khumri in Baghlan province on Aug. 10.

The Taliban, whose only objective is to restore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, has laid the groundwork for the current offensive for over a decade. Its rural insurgency strategy took advantage of its strengths and the Afghan government and NATO’s weaknesses. The Taliban waited for President Joe Biden to announce the U.S. withdrawal, and by May 1, it put its plan into motion.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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