Afghan government could fall to Taliban within 90 days, U.S. official says
Afghanistan's capital city and the seat of its government, Kabul, could come under pressure from the Taliban in as little as 30 days and fall to the extremist group within 90 days, a U.S. official told CBS News' David Martin.
The Taliban now controls 65 percent of Afghanistan, according to European officials. A number of major provincial capitals have fallen to the group over the past week.
But despite the group's rapid gains -- which have shocked the Afghan government and its allies -- U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he did not regret his decision to withdraw American troops.
"Afghan leaders have to come together," Mr. Biden said. "They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."
20 years of war
The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and broke up the Afghanistan-based al Qaeda terrorist network, which had carried out the September 11th attacks. It also overthrew the extremist Taliban, which was ruling the country under fundamentalist Islamic law and had been harboring Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Under Taliban rule, people could be publicly executed for adultery or have limbs amputated for theft. Girls were discouraged from going to school, and music and dancing were banned.
Now, the Taliban have become a disciplined, battle-hardened fighting force, CBS News' Charlie D'Agata reports. Even though Afghan forces technically outnumber the militants by six to one, U.S.-trained Afghan commandos are the only real match for the Taliban, and they are stretched too thin. Air support is minimal and often arrives too late, D'Agata says.
On Wednesday, as the Taliban closed in on the largest city in the north, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani flew to the region to try to rally warlords to come to its defense, according to the Reuters news agency.
The Red Cross has warned that hundreds of thousands of civilians are at risk as the fighting continues. Over 4,000 people, it said, had been treated in its hospitals for wounds caused by weapons since the start of the month, and those hospitals are increasingly strained.
"People cannot reach health services, or health services are prevented to function normally because of damages or because movement is impossible, because staff cannot work, cannot access the clinics, or because hospitals are in the middle of the frontlines," Eloi Fillion, ICRC's head of delegation in Afghanistan, said in a statement.
The European Union said that over 400,000 people have already been displaced due to the violence, and that there has been a surge of people fleeing across the border to Iran, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Germany and the Netherlands on Wednesday suspended deportations to Afghanistan due to the security situation, according to the Associated Press.
"The security situation on the ground is changing so quickly at the moment that we can't fulfill (our responsibility for the safety) of the deportees, the staff accompanying them or the flight crews," Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, according to AP.
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