KABUL (Dispatches) – The Taliban in Afghanistan have overrun a key district in Maidan Wardak province next to the capital Kabul, officials confirmed on Friday.
Sharifullah Hotak, a member of the provincial council, told Anadolu Agency the Taliban captured the Jalrez district at around 9 a.m. (0430GMT) on Friday after a five-day siege. “The district police chief has surrendered to the Taliban along with 35 security forces, and the district administrative compound has completely fallen to the Taliban,” he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group has seized the district administration compound as well as the police headquarters by inflicting “heavy casualties” on the government forces.
Without acknowledging the fall of Jalrez, the country’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that an operation has been planned to push the militants out of the district situated less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the capital Kabul. The Interior Ministry, meanwhile, dubbed the situation in Jalrez as a “tactical retreat”.
In less than a month, this is the third district overrun by the Taliban in Baghlan, Maidan Wardak and Laghman provinces.
On Thursday, the security forces went on a “strategic retreat” in the Dawlat Shah district of eastern Laghman province to avoid civilian casualties amid mounting Taliban onslaught. The Taliban, however, claimed to have overrun this key district in a province neighboring the capital Kabul.
Deadly violence returned to Afghanistan after a three-day truce for the Muslim holy festival of Eid last week.
After the U.S. missed a May 1 deadline to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, the ocuntry has been witnessing a spike in deadly Taliban assaults across the country that has led to mounting casualties on all sides.
U.S. President Joe Biden later pushed back the withdrawal date and announced that the American forces will exit by September 2021 and end the occupation of the country after 20 years.