The Taliban advance through Afghanistan rolled on Saturday unchecked, with government forces surrendering territory without a fight. When the central province of Daykundi fell, a lawmaker said, only two gunshots were fired in the capital. President Biden announced a series of steps, while reiterating that he will not "pass this war onto a fifth" president. The developments:
- "To make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown" of American personnel and Afghan evacuees, Biden said he's sending another 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, making the total deployment 5,000. He's also sending the Taliban the message that any action of theirs that puts US personnel at risk "will be met with a swift and strong US military response," CNN reports.
- Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan's fourth-largest city, was taken by the Taliban on Saturday night, one of the biggest losses of the Taliban offensive. The northern city was heavily defended, but a lawmaker said the army surrendered early in the attack, breaking the morale of pro-government militias and other fighters and leading them to give up the fight, per the AP. A former warlord who had thousands of fighters posted on Facebook that the surrender was a conspiracy, with government forces just turning over their weapons and equipment to the Taliban. "There was no resistance," a militia commander said, per the New York Times.
- The central province of Daykundi surrendered. A lawmaker said the resistance appeared to consist of two gunshots in the capital, Nili, per the AP.
- The eastern province of Kunar fell to the Taliban. A lawmaker said there was no fight over the capital, Asadabad.
- Mihterlam, northeast of Kabul and the capital of Laghman province, was seized by the Taliban without resistance, a lawmaker said.
- The Taliban detained local officials after taking Logar province, just south of Kabul.
- President Ashraf Ghani addressed the nation on television for the first time during the offensive, just before the day's major losses. He promised to not give up the "achievements" of the 20-year US presence. A former defense official described Ghani as isolated, saying, "He doesn’t know how to reverse this."
The Taliban now control the southern, western, and northern regions of the country. Among cities, only Jalalabad and the capital, Kabul, are still controlled by the government. Kabul is nearly encircled by Taliban fighters. Ghani might be looking for a power-sharing arrangement with the Taliban on the capital before it's attacked, per CNN. (Read more Afghanistan