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Taliban capture major northern city, approach Afghan capital

Taliban fighters pose on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 14, 2021, after they took the province from Afghan government. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)
Taliban fighters pose on the back of a vehicle in the city of Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 14, 2021, after they took the province from Afghan government. (AP Photo/Hamed Sarfarazi)

The Taliban catures a large, heavily defended city in northern Afghanistan in a major setback for the government, and the insurgents are approaching the capital.

The fall of Mazar-i-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, confining the Western-backed government to the center and east.

The Taliban have made major advances in recent days, including capturing Herat and Kandahar, the country’s second- and third-largest cities. They now control about 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, leaving the Western-backed government with a smattering of provinces in the center and east, as well as the capital, Kabul.

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