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Taliban captures Afghan provincial capital Zaranj

Taliban captures Afghan provincial capital Zaranj The Taliban has captured the city of Zaranj in Afghanistan’s Nimruz province, making it the first provincial capital the group has taken from the Afghan government as it steps up offensives.

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Fighting to reimpose strict Islamic law after being overthrown in 2001 by the US-led forces, the Taliban has intensified its campaign to defeat the US-backed government as foreign forces complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.

The Taliban has taken dozens of districts and border crossings in recent months and put pressure on several provincial capitals, including Herat in the west and Kandahar in the south, as foreign troops withdraw.

Zaranj was the first provincial capital to fall to the group since the United States reached a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 for a troop pullout. The last time a provincial capital was captured by the Taliban was in 2016 when Kunduz was briefly taken.

A spokesperson for Nimruz’s police, who declined to be named for security reasons, told Reuters news agency that the Taliban had been able to capture the city because of a lack of reinforcements from the government.

Taliban sources said the group was celebrating, and Zaranj’s fall would boost the morale of their fighters in other provinces. A Taliban commander, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said it has strategic importance as it is on the border with Iran.

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