On Thursday, the Taliban seized about a dozen provincial capitals in Afghanistan, leaving its capital Kabul even more isolated from the rest of the country.
A militant group captured strategic cities yesterday, including Ghazni and Herat, in what the media called the most dramatic captures since its offensive began.
Experts say that having taken Ghazni increases the Taliban’s chances to control the capital.
Heavy fighting was also reported in Afghanistan’s second-largest city, Kandahar.
According to Afghan officials, the country’s third-largest city, Herat, fell to the Taliban last night.
The militant group reportedly took control of the governor’s office and Herat police headquarters. It also captured a major urban center in western Afghanistan, they said.
The city of Qala-I-Naw, capital of the northwestern province of Badghis, also fell to the Taliban late Thursday night.
A Badghis provincial council member said that Afghan forces in the area had fled to the local army base, the only place that has not been taken by the militant group.
Informed sources also told the media that the capital of Helmand province, Lashkar Gah, was also under Taliban control. However, it has yet to be confirmed.
The militant group’s rapid advance has dealt a severe blow to the Afghan government and its security forces.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have been forced to flee to Kabul while trying to escape the fighting.
Also on Thursday, a Taliban spokesman tweeted that Ghazni city – including police headquarters, the prison, and the governor’s office – had been taken.
It would be a significant gain for the Taliban, as it is located 150 km (93 miles) from Kabul and on the main Kabul-Kandahar motorway, which links the capital with militant strongholds in the south.
Besides, a provincial city council member told the media that the Taliban had taken much of the center, leaving only a police base on the outskirts controlled by the Afghan authorities.
Afghan security forces reportedly detained Dawood Laghmani, governor of Ghazni province, shortly after the Taliban took the city.
The governor reportedly surrendered to the Taliban, Faqiri, the provincial council head said.
Over a third of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces have been taken and are now controlled by the Taliban.
A senior administration official familiar with a US intelligence assessment estimated that Kabul could be cut off by the Taliban in the next 30-60 days.
Another assessment says that the Afghan capital could fall under the militant group’s control in 90 days.
Officials and diplomatic sources said the United States has considered relocating its embassy to Kabul airport amid the country’s security collapse, CNN reported.