Taliban Capture Zaranj, an Afghanistan Provincial Capital, in a Symbolic Victory
KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban have captured the capital of one of the western provinces of Afghanistan, Afghan officials said on Friday, a symbolic step in the insurgents’ relentless march to regain power in the country.
Taliban fighters met little resistance to take Zaranj, the provincial capital of Nimruz on the Afghan-Iranian border, Afghan officials said. They said an agreement had been negotiated with the Taliban allowing city officials to cross the Iranian border with their families.
The assault marked the first provincial capital to be captured by the insurgent group since the Biden administration announced it would completely withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by next month.
The capture of Zaranj is a symbolically significant development in the Taliban’s campaign, as they have moved away from targeting rural districts to focus on attacking provincial capitals, Zaranj being the first to fall.
The 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army is responsible for security in Zaranj and Lashkar Gah, the capital of neighboring Helmand province, which has been under siege for several days. The 215th Corps leadership had focused on defending Lashkar Gah, leaving Zaranj, a town of 160,000, vulnerable to capture.
“All the people are hiding in their homes for fear of the Taliban,” said Khair-ul-Nisa Ghami, a member of the provincial council. “The situation is very worrying. People are afraid, ”she said, adding:“ The Taliban captured the city without any fighting. “
The Taliban besieged scores of these towns for weeks, and Zaranj’s likely fall on Friday is the Taliban’s first major breakthrough. The collapse of the city came as insurgents were also pressuring other provincial towns, a day of grim news for the government.
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