A new US military assessment says the Taliban could isolate Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, in 30 days and potentially take it over in 90 days, amid the militants’ rapid advances across the war-ravaged country.
“But this is not a foregone conclusion,” a US defense official told Reuters anonymously on Wednesday, referring to the assessment. He claimed Afghan security forces could reverse that momentum by putting up more resistance against the militants.
Another person familiar with the intelligence told NatSec Daily that it might take the Taliban militants up to six months to seize control of the entire capital city. “That’s how fluid the situation is,” the unnamed source said.
The Taliban have captured ten provincial capitals in Afghanistan within six days.
On Thursday, the militants captured Ghazni City in southern Afghanistan. The provincial capital city is located just 150 kilometers (95 miles) from Kabul. Nasir Ahmad Faqiri, head of the provincial council, told AFP on Thursday, “The Taliban took control of the key areas of the city — the governor’s office, the police headquarters and the prison.”
Violence has been surging across Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces from the country. The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban from power, but it worsened the security situation in the country.
The Taliban militants are continuing to wrest control of strategic northern provinces in Afghanistan, which have traditionally been the bastion of anti-Taliban resistance. Thousands of people have fled their homes in the north for the relative safety of Kabul and other urban centers.
The pace of the Taliban’s advances have surprised US officials. Until last month, US intelligence assessments warned that the Afghan government could fall in six months. US President Joe Biden has urged Afghanistan’s leaders to fight for their homeland.
US weighing possible evacuation of Kabul embassy: Sources
Meanwhile, three sources who also spoke on the condition of anonymity told NatSec Daily that there were internal discussions underway about closing the US Embassy in Kabul amid the ongoing offensives by the Taliban militants.
One of the sources said the mission could be evacuated by the end of the month, while another said there had been a continuous conversation about how many American diplomats were needed in Kabul in light of the danger.
The US State Department did not deny an evacuation was being weighed. “As we do for every diplomatic post in a challenging security environment, we will evaluate threats daily and make decisions that are in interests of individuals serving at our embassy about how to keep them safe,” a State Department official said, adding that the embassy “has been on ordered departure status since April 27.”