by Antonella Alba

01 August 2021 The bloody Taliban offensive in Afghanistan continues.

Violent fighting is underway for the fourth consecutive day in Herat between the Taliban and government forces.

Third most important Afghan city - with its 600,000 inhabitants - Herat is semi-besieged by the Taliban.

In defense, Kabul has deployed "hundreds of special forces soldiers" on the field.

This was announced by the spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, Fawad Aman, quoted by local media.

The BBC reports intense fighting that also continues in the center of Lashkar Gah and in Kandahar.

The Taliban have been leading an all-out offensive for three months, in recent weeks they have come very close to Kandahar, the cradle of their movement, reaching the borders of the second largest city in the country by population (650,000 inhabitants). 

Its fall would again make it the epicenter of their ultra-conservative and fundamentalist regime of Islamic law, as when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 and the country was destroyed.

During the night, three rockets hit the airport. "Two of the rockets damaged the runway and for this reason all flights to and from the airport were canceled," said the head of the airport, Massoud Pashtun, confirmed by a civil aviation manager in Kabul. 

The offensive is also made possible thanks to the definitive withdrawal of international troops from the country, with it large rural portions of the territory are already in the hands of the Taliban. The Afghan security forces quoted by the media in Kabul report that the Taliban "are advancing towards the center", "barricading themselves in the homes and gardens of the population". And now they are threatening several regional capitals: in addition to Kandahar and Herat, also Lashkar Gah, capital of the province of Helmand (south), bordering that of Kandahar. 

Of the 17 districts of the homonymous province in the west of the country, only two remained under the control of the government, that of Guzara and that of the city of Herat. Yesterday the UN provincial compound was attacked, the toll is of a killed Afghan policeman and two wounded officers. The Afghan forces that barely resist the enemy offensive essentially control only the main major axes and the provincial capitals.

The Afghan Human Rights Commission announces that in the first six months of this year, 1,677 civilians were killed, with a dramatic increase of 80% compared to 2020.