For the first time amid the Biden-ordered US troop exit from Afghanistan a provincial capital has fallen to the Taliban, also as they make broad gains in various parts of the country, and as insurgent attacks and assassinations begin to reach deep within the capital of Kabul itself.
Zaranj, the capital city of Nimruz province which lies in the southwest near the border with Iran, and with a population of an estimated 160,000, was taken by the Taliban on Friday, according to The Washington Post. A statement by Nimroz's police force described the Taliban rapidly and easily captured the city due to "a lack of reinforcements from the government." And The New York Times is also calling it a significant "symbolic victory" wherein the advancing Islamists "faced little resistance". Some reports are suggesting not so much as a single shot was fired.
Video footage was quick to emerge showing Taliban patrols in city streets, including long lines of US Humvees driven by bearded Taliban militants flying the flag of jihad, with prisoners "streaming out of the city's prison" - as described in The Long War Journal:
Jihadists and other independent sources on social media have posted videos of Taliban fighters patrolling the city. The images also show them in control of the military base, as well as Zaranj Airport. Taliban fighters were photographed outside the governor’s compound and the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency. Prisoners are streaming out of the city’s prison.
Video from inside Zaranj shows prisons being emptied out...
Prisoners running out of the prison in Zaranj the capital of Nimroz province. pic.twitter.com/gbtuQKptD5— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) August 6, 2021
And looting underway...
Looting in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province after the city fell to the Taliban without a single shot being fired. pic.twitter.com/OivQLZWMR4— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) August 6, 2021
This puts the Taliban in control of a major trade route to Iran and source of customs revenue to the tune of millions of dollars. Currently national forces are struggling to hang on to other provincial capitals, including Lashkar Gah in neighboring Helmand province, where US-backed troops are said to be surrounded in the center of town.
The below video shows the Taliban rolling through Nimruz's provincial capital with American-made Humvees while flying their flag of jihad:
څومره خوندور الله اکبر— سپین غر/S_Ghar (@SGhar11) August 6, 2021
طالبان د نیمروز ښار ته د داخلېدلو په حال کې، د نیمروز ولایت فتحه شوه.
ویډیو ریټویټ کړئ pic.twitter.com/cdHsZgjSv8
Taliban fighter surveys local military base now under the group's control...
د نیمروز ولایت میدان هوایي او پاتې کنډک هم بشپړه فتحه شو.— حـمـادافـغـان/ H_Afghan (@HAfghan8) August 6, 2021
تکبیرررررر الله اکبر ولله الحمد. pic.twitter.com/u3LuHIoj4C
Meanwhile, the Taliban has begun insurgent attacks inside Kabul, starting with a suicide-bomb and gun attack on Kabul's Green Zone on Wednesday which killed at least eight people. The car bomb attack had targeted Afghanistan's acting defense's minister's home.
American-supplied Humvees have of late been captured in droves by the jihadists as many bases and equipment were often simply abandoned by US and Afghan national forces...
On Friday a top official was assassinated by gunmen along a popular road. The head of Afghanistan's Government Media and Information Centre (GMIC), Dawa Khan Menapa, who had also worked as President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman, was killed in what the Taliban said was an operation to dole out "punishment" against the US-backed government.