An Afghan official says the Taliban have attacked a third provincial capital in less than a week, with an overnight assault on the western city of Farah. Provincial Governor Mohammad Shoaib Sabet says there’s no immediate word of casualties early Friday and that airstrikes have been carried out against the militant group. The Taliban have continued bloody assaults on civilians and security forces even as their leaders meet with U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar to negotiate an end to nearly 18 years of war.
Resident Shams Noorzai says the Taliban seized an army recruitment centre close to Farah’s main police headquarters and set it on fire. He says all shops have closed and some people are trying to flee. The Taliban over the weekend also launched deadly attacks on the capitals of Kunduz and Baghlan provinces.
The United States in the negotiations has also sought Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will no longer be a launching pad for terror attacks such as the September 11, 2001, attack on the US by al-Qaida. The Taliban government had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Some 20,000 US and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan after formally ending their combat role in 2014.
Fearing a return to power of the hardline Taliban, many worry the deal and subsequent negotiations will lead to a reduction in personal freedoms and limited women’s rights that modern Afghans have grown accustomed to.
US troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda, which was sheltered by the former Taliban regime. Washington now wants to end its military involvement—the longest in its history—and has been talking to the Taliban since at least 2018.