Despite the Pentagon’s announcement that the United States would be sending 3,000 troops to Afghanistan, the Taliban gained more ground Friday, capturing four more capital cities in the country. The video above shows the Taliban taking over Tirin Kot, the capital of the Uruzgan province.
Tirin Kot was one of three provincial capitals seized in southern Afghanistan Friday. The other two are Lashkar Gah in the Helmand province, and Qalat in the Zabul province.
In addition to those three southern capitals, Ghor province capital Feroz Koh fell to the insurgents out west.
The Taliban now hold half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals, and over two-thirds of the country as a whole. The Afghan government’s control is primarily concentrated in the central and eastern parts of the country.
The U.S. troop mission in Afghanistan is focused on helping evacuate some personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. While the nation’s capital isn’t under threat yet, the Taliban were battling government forces in Logar province, which is only about 50 miles away from Kabul. Britain and Canada are also sending forces to aid evacuations. Denmark said it will temporarily close its embassy in Kabul, and Germany is reducing its embassy staff to the “absolute minimum.”
The U.S. military has estimated that Kabul could come under insurgent pressure in the next month, and the Taliban could overrun the rest of the country within a few months. There are also concerns the fighting could plunge the country into civil war. That is what happened when the Soviets withdrew from the country in 1989. The U.S. is expected to withdraw by Aug. 31.
“We are worried. There is fighting everywhere in Afghanistan, the provinces are falling day by day,” said Zabul resident Ahmad Sakhi. “The government should do something, the people are facing lots of problems.”
According to the U.N. refugee agency, nearly 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their homes since the end of May. 80 percent of those displaced are women and children. Some 400,000 civilians have been displaced since the beginning of the year.