The Taliban seized the city of Jalalabad early Sunday, cutting off Afghanistan’s increasingly isolated capital Kabul to the east, The Associated Press reported.
The collapse of Jalalabad, which had been the last major city standing besides Kabul, leaves Afghanistan’s central government in control of just the capital and seven other provincial capitals.
According to the reports, the Taliban captured Jalalabad without any resistance as the Afghan forces were seen fleeing from the city.
Reports also added that several top warlords who assisted US and NATO forces in previous Taliban advancements have either surrendered to the Taliban or have fled to safer places.
The Associated Press while quoting Abrarullah Murad, a lawmaker from the province reported that the insurgents seized Jalalabad after elders negotiated the fall of the government there. Murad said there was no fighting as the city surrendered.
The seizure Sunday comes amid rapid gains by the Taliban over the last week, pressuring Afghanistan’s central government as U.S., British and Canadian forces rush troops in to help their diplomatic staffs still there.
The fall Saturday of Mazar-e-Sharif, the country’s fourth-largest city, which Afghan forces and two powerful former warlords had pledged to defend, hands the insurgents’ control over all of northern Afghanistan.
On his speech Saturday, Ghani vowed not to give up the “achievements” of the 20 years since the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks.
U.S President Joe Biden on Saturday doubled down on his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan despite the Taliban’s rapid advances, but pledged to send more troops to evacuate civilians and warned the insurgents not to threaten their mission.
“After consultations with his national security team, Biden said a total of “approximately 5,000” US soldiers — up from 3,000 — will now help organize evacuations and the end of the US mission after 20 years on the ground.
He warned the Taliban that any action “that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response.”