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The Taliban Now Control Two-Thirds Of Afghanistan

Internally displaced Afghan families, who fled from Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan province due to battles between Taliban and Afghan security forces, sit in front of their temporary tents at Sara-e-Shamali in Kabul on August 11, 2021.
Internally displaced Afghan families, who fled from Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan province due to battles between Taliban and Afghan security forces, sit in front of their temporary tents at Sara-e-Shamali in Kabul on August 11, 2021.

As of Thursday morning, the Taliban now have control of 10 provincial capital cities — effectively putting them in control of two-thirds of Afghanistan.

NPR's Morning Edition spoke to Lynne O'Donnell, a journalist based in the capital of Kabul for Foreign Policy.

O'Donnell said things on the ground in Kabul "feel like a city under siege in a besieged country":

  • People are flooding into Kabul from neighboring regions.
  • Public parks in Kabul have become camps for displaced people.
  • Food and fuel prices are rising as the Taliban block off import routes.
  • Conditions in the Taliban-controlled parts of the country are "brutal":

  • The Taliban are rounding up people who have worked for the U.S. military or Afghan government.
  • O'Donnell said the atrocities on the battlefield are "horrific" and include bodies being mutilated and other things the journalist wouldn't go into on air.
  • Women are being told to stay in their homes unless accompanied by a male relative.
  • Women are also being told they'll be rounded up and married off to Taliban fighters.
  • Girls in those regions are being taken out of school, and schools for girls are closed.
  • O'Donnell said there's a real fear that Kabul might be the next city to fall under Taliban control. In an interview Thursday with Morning Edition, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said what's next for Kabul is up to Afghan forces.

    "It doesn't have to be that way," Kirby said. "It really depends on the kind of political and military leadership that the Afghans can muster to turn this around."

    Afghan forces just appointed a new army chief and a new head of the special operations command. O'Donnell said it's difficult to know now what will come from these appointments.


    This story originally appear on the Morning Edition live blog.

    You can hear the audio version of this conversation on Up First.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.