Taliban has intensified its attacks on Afghan provincial cities depicting a change in strategy after increasing US airstrikes. This is a shift from the previous trajectory, where the majority of the fighting was limited to Afghan hinterlands.
After American president Joe Biden announced the decision to end its longest war and withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the country witnessed a dramatic increase in the attacks by the Taliban. The Taliban have intensified their campaign to defeat the U.S.-backed government in a bid to take over the country. The fighting has been particularly intense in Herat, near the western border with Iran, Lashkar Gah in the southwest, and Kandahar in the south.
Officials and experts said they saw signs of a change in strategy last month, reported Reuters. “Taliban are pushing against the provincial capitals … not just to exert pressure but to capture them,” said Asfandyar Mir, a South Asia analyst from Stanford University.
“The main evidence is the extent of their breach of these cities. Fighting is not limited to the peripheries anymore. This switch in Taliban strategy has been formalized after Eid, though Taliban forces were putting serious pressure on Kandahar even before Eid.”
The Taliban ruled parts of Afghanistan with an iron fist from 1996 until 2001. They had said previously they would focus on the border crossings and rural areas, though they have encircled and at times entered provincial capitals.
As the Afghan Special Forces, tasked to contain Taliban, are stretched thin, the Taliban are overrunning Afghan military outposts, towns, villages, and surrounding major cities, fuelling fears that they could topple the government again.
Experts think the Taliban now has the upper hand, with no incentive to negotiate with the US-backed Afghan government. Intelligence analysts also predict an upcoming civil war and the potential resurgence of the terrorist group al-Qaeda, as followed by the US withdrawal from Iraq.
Renewed Refugee Crisis
Many people have already fled rural areas and created an influx of internal migrants in the country. Many citizens have abandoned their homes in a panic frenzy as the country sinks deeper into war. Many have already sought refuge in neighboring countries, including Tajikistan. Turkey also reportedly is hosting refugees from Afghanistan. Around 2,000 Afghans a day are entering Turkey, and migration experts expect the numbers to surge as the Taliban seizes control of more of Afghanistan.