Afghan officials said, the Taliban seized a province just south of Afghanistan’s capital and launched a multi-pronged assault early Saturday on a major city in the north defended by powerful formers.

A  lawmaker from Logar , Hoda Ahmadi, , says the Taliban control the provience including capital and reached a distric in the neighboring Kabul , said Saturday. She said the Taliban have reached the Char Asyab district, just 11 kilometers south of the capital, Kabul.

The insurgents have captured much of northern, western, and southern Afghanistan in  less than three weeks before the United States is set to withdraw its last troops.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had flown to Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday to rally the city’s defenses, meeting with several militia commanders allied with government

According  to Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman for the provincial governor, The Taliban also attacked the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif from several directions, setting off heavy fighting on its outskirts.

  Ismail Khan, a powerful former warlord who had tried to defend Herat, was captured by the Taliban when the insurgents seized the western city after two weeks of heavy fighting. Residents of Mazar-e-Sharif expressed fear about the security breakdown.

The first Marines from a contingent of 3,000 arrived on Friday to help partially evacuate the U.S. Embassy.The Taliban have made major advances in now a days, including capturing Herat and Kandahar, the country’s second and third-largest cities. They now control 18 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, leaving the Western-backed government in control of a smattering of provinces in the center and east, as well as Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden announced a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of August, pledging to end America’s longest war. His predecessor, President Donald Trump, had reached an agreement with the Taliban to pave the way for a U.S. pullout.

Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes, with many fearing a return to the Taliban’s oppressive rule. The group had previously governed Afghanistan under a harsh version of Islamic law in which women were largely confined to the home.

Biden’s announcement set the latest offensive in motion. The Taliban, who have long controlled large parts of the Afghan countryside, moved quickly to seize provincial capitals, border crossings, and other key infrastructure.

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