The Taliban flag is flying over the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan today after an early morning assault—the first major city captured by the group since 2001, reports the Guardian. The loss of a provincial capital is seen as a huge embarrassment to the Afghan government, but it's far more than symbolic. The city is an important regional hub for the trafficking of weapons and drugs, and its "fall poses a dire challenge to the assertion that the Afghan security forces can hold the country’s most vital cities," observes the New York Times.
At the Long War Journal, Bill Roggio writes that the fall of Kunduz is sure to resonate with plenty of Americans, too. It "would invalidate the entire US 'surge' strategy from 2009 to 2012," he writes. "Today, the Taliban are gaining ground in northern, central, eastern and southern Afghanistan, with dozens of districts falling under Taliban control over the past year." Reuters, too, calls the capture "stunning," noting that the Taliban forces freed hundreds of fellow militants from prison once they took the city. (Read more Taliban stories.)