“This afternoon the Taliban entered the city of Farah after briefly fighting with the security forces. They have captured the governor’s office and police headquarters,” Shahla Abubar, a member of Farah’s provincial council, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.
Local sources told TOLO News that most of Farah city, the capital of Farah province, were taken over by the Taliban. That includes the governor’s compound and police headquarters.
Farah is now the second provincial city in southwestern Afghanistan that was taken by the Taliban in recent days, coming days after the group took over nearby Nimruz province.
On Monday, the group took over the northern province of Samangan and its capital, Aybak, according to the deputy provincial governor, Mohammad Dawood Kalakani. The Taliban, he asserted, is “in full control” of the province.
And two lawmakers in the province, Abdalullah Mohammadi and Ziauddin Zia were quoted by TOLO News that Afghan government forces fled without fighting the Taliban.
“They said Afghan forces retreated from the city without fighting,” according to TOLO.
Presidential spokesperson Mohammad Amiri said that while the Afghan government remains open to talks with the Taliban, and the government has decided to “mobilize and arm” civilians to fight the Taliban after meeting with local leaders and warlords.
“Unfortunately, the Taliban don’t believe in peace talks,” Amiri said, adding: “They are trying to grab power by force and such acts are not acceptable to the people and government of Afghanistan,” reported Pakistan’s Express Tribune.
The government has withdrawn forces from hard-to-defend rural districts to focus on holding major population centers while officials have appealed for pressure on neighboring Pakistan to stop Taliban reinforcements and supplies flowing over the porous border. Pakistan denies backing the Taliban.
Atta Mohammad Noor, a northern militia commander, vowed to fight to the end, saying there would be “resistance until the last drop of my blood.”
“I prefer dying in dignity than dying in despair,” he said on Twitter.
The Taliban has gone on the offensive in recent weeks after President Joe Biden announced the United States would withdraw from the country after remaining there for nearly 20 years. The drawdown of U.S. troops is slated to end by the start of next month, he said.
Over the past weekend, the U.S. Department of State urged any Americans who remain in Afghanistan to immediately leave the country, warning that government-sponsored flights may not be available in the near future.
When asked about the possibility of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday said that “it’s their struggle” now.
Reuters contributed to this report.