Taliban takes second provincial capital

The Taliban took control of its second provincial capital today. Shibirghan, the capital of the northern province of Jawzjan and the home of warlord Marshall Abdul Rashid Dostum, fell to the Taliban.

Dostum and his followers abandoned Shibirghan today and fled to the district of Khwaja Dako, TOLONews reported. Khwaja Dako hosts the city’s airport, and is the only district in Jawzjan under government control. The other 10 districts in Jawzjan are under Taliban control, according to an ongoing assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan by FDD’s Long War Journal.

The Taliban pressed its offensive on Shibirghan several days from districts it controlled that surrounded the city. The Afghan military sent reinforcements, but they were unable to hold off the Taliban assault on the city.

Shibirghan is the second city to fall under Taliban control in the past two days. Yesterday, the Taliban took control of Zaranj in the western province of Nimroz after former governor and warlord Abdul Karim Barawi abandoned the city without a fight.

The Afghan government is in danger of losing control of the strategic north. Without control of the north, important Afghan politicians, warlords, and government officials will be deprived of their base of power. Without the north, the Afghan government has little chance of surviving the Taliban onslaught.

The Afghan government is battling the Taliban battling for control of multiple provincial capitals throughout the country. Government forces are currently clinging to a cluster of buildings in the center of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, as the Taliban controls the rest of the city. The Taliban began launching suicide bombers at government forces holed up in Lashkar Gah. The Taliban is in control of neighborhoods in Kandahar and Herat cities, and is launching frequent assaults in other capitals, such as Taluqan, Kunduz City, Ghazni City, Mitharlam, and Shiberghan.

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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