Taliban captures Kandahar and Herat as Biden sends troops to evacuate U.S. personnel

Taliban leaders in Qatar.
(Image credit: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images)

In a major offensive on Thursday, the Taliban captured Kandahar and Herat — the two largest cities in Afghanistan after the capital Kabul.

Witnesses told The Associated Press that in Herat, Taliban fighters once held in the city's prisons are now free and on the streets. Government officials and residents in both cities are fleeing from the militant group, with Kandahar's governor flying to Kabul for safety.

The Taliban also seized the provincial capital Ghazni, cutting off an important highway connecting Kabul with Afghanistan's southern provinces. The Taliban is estimated to now control over two-thirds of Afghanistan. While Kabul is not yet under direct threat from the Taliban, the newest U.S. military intelligence suggests it could fall within 30 days. President Biden is sending 3,000 troops to Kabul to help evacuate some personnel from the embassy before the U.S. military mission officially ends in late August.

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