The Taliban are still putting pressure, Sunday, August 1, on the big cities of Herat, the big city in western Afghanistan, and in Kandahar, in the south.

In Kandahar, the airport runway was damaged overnight from Saturday to Sunday by rockets.

All flights are now suspended.

The airport enclosure of the city, which has only one runway, also shelters a military air base, essential for the supply of the Afghan forces which face for several weeks the Taliban in the suburbs of this city of 650,000 inhabitants.

The Taliban, who have been leading an all-out offensive across Afghanistan for three months, have moved closer in recent weeks to Kandahar, the cradle of their movement, reaching the limits of the country's second largest city in terms of population.

Thousands of residents have fled the clashes in recent weeks to seek refuge in the city.

Thanks to this offensive launched at the same time as the start of the final withdrawal of international troops from the country, now almost completed, the Taliban seized large rural portions of the territory.

The Afghan forces, which have so far offered little resistance to the Taliban's advance, essentially control only the main roads and the provincial capitals, some of which are surrounded.

But the insurgents are now seriously threatening several of these cities: in addition to Kandahar, they have also moved closer to Herat, the third most populous in the country with 600,000 inhabitants) in the west, and Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province. in the south, close to that of Kandahar.

The fall of Kandahar, which the Taliban had made the epicenter of their regime when they ruled Afghanistan (1996-2001), imposing their ultrarigorist version of Islamic law, would be a disaster for the Afghan authorities and for the morale of their people. forces, already seriously undercut.

And it would reinforce the already big questions about the ability of the Afghan army to prevent the Taliban from seizing power in Afghanistan by force.

Air raids in Herat

In Herat, "the fighting continued last night in (...) the outskirts of the city. Air raids halted the Taliban's advance," Jailani Farhad, spokesperson told AFP on Sunday morning. of the governor of the province of Herat.

After a lull in the morning, the fighting resumed Saturday afternoon for the third consecutive day in the districts of Injil, which surrounds the city, and Guzara, about ten km south of Herat, especially nearby of the airport.

Thursday and Friday, the insurgents had already approached the city limits, around which were deployed Afghan forces and militiamen of Ismail Khan, a powerful local anti-Italian warlord, veteran of the war against the Soviet occupation ( 1979-1989).

On Friday, the offices in Herat of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) had been attacked in particular with rocket launcher by "anti-government elements", resulting in the death of an Afghan policeman guarding the premises, said the UN mission, implicitly implicating the Taliban.

The Taliban recently seized several districts of the province of Herat, as well as two border posts located there, that of Islam Qala, the main crossing point with Iran, and that of Torghundi with Turkmenistan. .

Abdullah Abdullah, former vice president and head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said in a tweet on Saturday that the Taliban executed a senior Afghan army officer after capturing him near Herat.

In Lashkar Gah (around 200,000 inhabitants), "there is fighting inside the city and we have called for the deployment of special forces in the city," Ataullah Afghan, head of the provincial council, told AFP. of Helmand.

On Saturday, a small private hospital with ten beds in the city, in which the Taliban had taken refuge, was largely destroyed in the fighting.

With AFP

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