The Taliban seized a radio station in Kandahar and took to the air after capturing much of southern Afghanistan in a swift offensive that raised fears of a complete takeover less than three weeks before the United States do not withdraw their last troops.
The Taliban have captured much of northern, western and southern Afghanistan in recent weeks, leaving the West-backed government to control a handful of provinces in the center and east, as well as the capital Kabul and the city of Mazar. i-Sharif.
The withdrawal of foreign forces and the rapid withdrawal of Afghanistan’s own troops, despite hundreds of billions of dollars in US aid over the years, has raised fears that the Taliban will return to power or that the country will be plunged into war. civil.
The first US Marines of a 3,000-strong contingent arrived Friday to help partially evacuate the US embassy.
The others are expected to arrive by Sunday, and their deployment has raised questions about whether the administration will meet its August 31 withdrawal deadline.
The Taliban released a video in which an anonymous insurgent announced the takeover of the city’s main radio station, which was renamed Voice Of Sharia, or Islamic law.
He said all employees were present and would disseminate news, political analysis and recitations from the Quran, the Islamic holy book.
It appears that the station is no longer playing music.
It was not clear whether the Taliban had purged the former employees or allowed them to return to work.
Most Kandahar residents wear the traditional Taliban favorite.
The man in the video praised the people of Kandahar on the Taliban victory.
The Taliban have operated mobile radio stations over the years, but have not operated any stations in a major city since they ruled the country from 1996 to 2001.
At that time, they also ran a station called Voice Of Sharia in Kandahar, the birthplace of the militant group.
Music was prohibited.
The United States invaded shortly after the 9/11 attacks, planned and executed by al-Qaeda while being sheltered by the Taliban.
After quickly ousting the Taliban, the United States turned to nation building, hoping to create a modern Afghan state after decades of war and unrest.
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 struck a deal with the Taliban to pave the way for a US withdrawal.
Mr Biden’s announcement sparked the latest offensive.
The Taliban, who have long controlled large parts of the Afghan countryside, moved quickly to seize provincial capitals, border crossings and other key infrastructure.
They are now less than 50 miles from Kabul.
Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled their homes, many fearing a return to the oppressive Taliban regime.
The group had previously ruled Afghanistan under a harsh version of Islamic law in which women were largely confined to the home.