The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense said the military killed 439 members of the Taliban group in a single day.
“439 Taliban terrorists were killed and 77 others were wounded as a result of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) operations in Nangarhar, Laghman, Logar, Paktia, Uruzgan, Zabul, Ghor, Farah, Balkh, Helmand Kapisa and Baghlan provinces during the last 24 hours,” the ministry tweeted August 11.
Fighting between government-led forces and Taliban escalated dramatically since May, when U.S.-led coalition began the final stage of troop withdrawal which it agreed to do so under a peace deal signed with the latter in February 2020.
In less than a week, Taliban fighters have taken control of more than a quarter of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals. Faizabad fell on Tuesday, making it the ninth city to be captured by Taliban since Friday. A day later, President Ashraf Ghani flew to the besieged city of Mazar-i-Sharif to rally his beleaguered forces. The loss of Mazar would be a catastrophic blow to the Kabul government and represent the complete collapse of its control over the north -- long a bastion of anti-Taliban militias.
UNICEF said in a statement that 27 children have so far been killed and 136 injured in ongoing fighting in Kandahar, Khost and Paktia provinces. The International Committee of the Red Cross stressed that hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk in the country.
The Taliban kidnapped a journalist named Nematullah Himmat from his home in Helmand province on Monday. This comes days after Talib gunmen shot Toofan Omari, a journalist and head of radio station Paktia Voice, in Kabul.
U.S. President Joe Biden has urged Afghan leaders to "fight for themselves" and gave no hint of delaying troop drawdown, which is to be completed by August 31. "They have got to want to fight. They have outnumbered the Taliban," he said.
He stressed that Washington would continue to support the Afghan security forces with air strikes, food, equipment and money for salaries.