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US condemns Taliban takeover of cities

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KABUL: The U.S. embassy has condemned the Taliban’s violent new offensive against Afghan cities in the wake of the militants’ seizure of several cities in recent days.

The Taliban recently took control of several cities including Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province, Sheberghan, capital of Jawzjan on Saturday, Kunduz city, and continue their attacks on Lashkargah city in Helmand and provincial capitals elsewhere.

“These Taliban actions to forcibly impose its rule are unacceptable and contradict its claim to support a negotiated settlement in the Doha peace process.  They demonstrate wanton disregard for the welfare and rights of civilians and will worsen this country’s humanitarian crisis,” said the U.S. embassy in a statement.

The U.S. embassy calledon the Taliban to agree to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire and to engage fully in peace negotiations “to end the suffering of the Afghan people and pave the way for an inclusive political settlement that benefits all Afghans and ensures that Afghanistan does not again serve as a safe haven for terrorists”.

In another tweet, the embassy quoted U.S. President Joe Biden as saying that he “feels and has stated that the Afghan government and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have the training, equipment and numbers to prevail, and now is the moment for the leadership and the will in the face of the Taliban aggression and violence.”

Herat, Kandahar, Lashkargah, Faizabad, Taloqan, Zaranj and Sheberghan are the cities for which the Taliban have launched large-scale attacks. But the Afghan government says the Taliban are unable to maintain or control any area.

Jawzjan Deputy Governor Abdul Qadir Maliehhas said the Taliban had seized control of Sheberghan, the provincial capital.

But Mirwais Stanekzai, spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, has said the Taliban had advanced in some areas of Sheberghan, but that Sheberghan would soon be cleared of the Taliban.

Violence and clashes have intensified in various parts of Afghanistan since the beginning of May with the withdrawal of international troops.

This is as the U.S.’s B-52 fighter jets bombedseveral Taliban positions across Afghanistan after US President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes recently.

A Pentagon source told the Times that Biden had ordered B-52s and Specters to target the Taliban in Afghanistan. The order comes as the Taliban have recently advanced on major cities.

Takhar and Badakhshan officials have said they have repelled recent Taliban attacks on provincial capitals.

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