KABUL (Dispatches) – As the Taliban militants make a fresh push to surround cities and gain territory, officials said on Monday that the militants have surrounded the city of Ghazni in central Afghanistan, taking over civilians’ homes to fight security forces.
“The situation in Ghazni city is very critical...the Taliban use civilian houses as hideouts and fire upon the ANDSF (Afghan security forces), this makes the situation very difficult for the ANDSF to operate against the Taliban,” said Hassan Rezayi, a member of Ghazni’s provincial council.
Meanwhile, more than 12,000 Afghan families have fled their homes in the northern province of Kunduz as battle continues between the Taliban and government forces to control the southern fringes of the provincial capital city, also called Kunduz, the acting governor says.
With gunfire that could be heard in the background, video footage showed on Monday Afghan forces on the battlefield on the outskirts of the city.
The displaced families living in tents in Kunduz city said they are suffering from severe lack of food and other relief.
“Our belongings are all burned, and we have nothing left,” said Javed Khan, a displaced Afghan man. “We live under this old tent and the sun.”
According to local reports, which could not be independently verified, Afghan forces and armed civilians in and around the provincial capital are resisting against Taliban militants who have already captured most districts in Kunduz province.
The Taliban’s recent territorial gains come as U.S.-led foreign troops started to withdraw from Afghanistan after 20 years of war, leaving the task of pulling the country from a spiraling security crisis to local forces.
Since the U.S. started the formal withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, in May — with a delay in a deadline agreed with the Taliban — the militants have intensified attacks across the country and, and according to the Pentagon, managed to take control of more than 100 of Afghanistan’s 419 district centers so far.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie criticized the U.S.’ decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, saying it shows “limits of American military power.”
Speaking on ABC’s This Week Sunday, the former presidential candidate offered criticism for the foreign policy decisions of past presidents, both Democrat and Republican, including former president Donald Trump, when asked about lessons the U.S. should take from its latest decision.
“20 years … America’s longest war,” said host George Stephanopolous to Christie. “Biggest lesson learned, biggest challenge ahead?”
“Well, look. The biggest lesson learned is once again the limits of American military power. It has utility to it, but it’s not a cure-all for all our problems,” he responded.