The Taliban armed group has taken control of Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province, about 130km (80 miles) southwest of the national capital, Kabul.
It becomes the 10th provincial capital to fall within days.
Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, reporting from Kabul, says the governor of Ghazni province has been arrested in the province of Wardak after fleeing Ghazni city through a deal with the Taliban, handing over the city in exchange for a safe passage.
Meanwhile, a government source tells Al Jazeera the Afghan government has offered the Taliban a share in power so long as the rising violence in the country comes to a halt.
Here are all the latest updates:
Taliban claims on social media to capture Herat: correspondent
Al Jazeera’s correspondent reporting from the capital, Kabul, said the Taliban claimed on social media to have taken over Herat. However, government officials have yet to confirm the development.
“The Taliban have just tweeted … saying that they have taken the city of Herat now Herat, is the third biggest city in Afghanistan, this is a huge development, if it is proven to be true,” the correspondent said.
“At the moment residents are just telling us the Taliban are in the heart of Herat, but we cannot confirm with government officials. I have just got off the phone with the ministry of interior, they say give us some time as we’re trying to confirm.”
Earlier, AFP news agency reported according to an unnamed security official, the Taliban took Herat.
A senior security source from Herat told AFP that government forces and administration officials had retreated to an army barracks outside the city.
Denmark suspends deportations to Afghanistan until October
Denmark will suspend deportations of rejected Afghan asylum seekers to Afghanistan until October 8 following a request from the Kabul government amid increased conflict in the country, the Danish immigration ministry said.
The decision comes after Denmark last week signed a letter with five other European Union countries, insisting on their right to forcibly deport Afghan asylum seekers whose cases had been rejected.
Denmark’s move follows similar announcements by Germany and the Netherlands – two other signatories to the letter – as the Taliban continues to make advances around Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country.
Trump blames Biden for ‘unacceptable’ Taliban surge in Afghanistan
Former President Donald Trump blasted his successor Joe Biden for putting no conditions on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and said a violent Taliban surge in the war-torn country was “not acceptable”.
Trump said the US pullout, which Biden has set for August 31 and which is already all but complete, would have been “a much different and much more successful withdrawal” if he were still president.
It was under Trump that the US brokered a deal with the Taliban in Doha in 2020 that would have seen the US withdraw all its troops by May 2021 in exchange for various security guarantees from the group. When Biden took power earlier this year, he pushed back the deadline for the withdrawal and set no conditions for it.
“If I were now president, the world would find that our withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a conditions-based withdrawal,” Trump claimed in a statement.
Taliban takes over Herat police HQ in western Afghanistan: AFP
The Taliban has taken over the main police headquarters in Herat, Afghanistan’s third-biggest city, a journalist of the AFP news agency at the scene said.
He added there had been no resistance, while a Taliban spokesman tweeted “the enemy fled … Dozens of military vehicles, weapons and ammunition fell into the hands of the Mujahideen”.
US urges Americans to leave Afghanistan immediately
The United States on Thursday urged its citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options, a notice on the website of the US embassy in Kabul said, amid a speedy Taliban advance across the country.
“The US Embassy urges US citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options,” a notice on the embassy’s website said, and warned Americans about the capability of the mission at this time in serving citizens.
“Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist US citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul,” the notice said.
‘Intense fighting’ in Kandahar city, say residents
Taliban has entered Kandahar city, residents told Al Jazeera, with some describing the situation in Afghanistan’s second-largest city as “dire”, as intense fighting raging between rebels and government forces inside the city limits.
One resident told Al Jazeera’s Ali M Latifi flights out of the Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport have been cancelled for the day, but Al Jazeera has not been able to officially confirm the veracity of the report.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Charlotte Bellis, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said the Taliban claimed on social media to have taken over the strategic city.
“The Taliban has just tweeted that they have taken Kandahar City. We don’t understand that to be entirely true, but we do understand that there is intense fighting happening in Kandahar city right now,” she said.
Bellis said Kandahar was “a huge asset for the government and a huge priority” for it to hold on to. Nearly 400,000 people reside in the city.
Kabul airport security to prevent Afghanistan from isolation: Turkey
Turkey’s main purpose in continuing to provide security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul is to prevent the war-torn country from becoming isolated, the country’s defence minister said.
Speaking at the Turkish embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Hulusi Akar said: “There are statements that if the airport in Kabul is closed, all diplomatic missions in the country will be withdrawn. We all know that such a thing is not desirable for our Afghan brothers. Thus, we continue to share our views that it would be beneficial to keep the airport open.”
Who are the Taliban’s key leaders in Afghanistan?
The Taliban has been fighting the Western-backed Afghan government in Kabul since it was removed from power in 2001.
It originally drew members from so-called “mujahideen” fighters who, with support from the United States, repelled Soviet forces in the 1980s.
Read more here.
Timeline: Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan
Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the group’s major milestones and advances in recent months.
France suspends expulsions of migrants to Afghanistan
France has suspended expelling Afghan migrants whose asylum applications had been rejected, due to the deteriorating security situation in the country as the Taliban presses an offensive, the government says.
The French interior ministry tells the AFP news agency in a statement that the policy had been in place since early July, after similar announcements of the suspension of such expulsions by Germany and the Netherlands.
Ghazni governor arrested ‘for surrendering without a fight’
The governor of Ghazni province has been arrested in Wardak province, south of Kabul, Al Jazeera’s Ali M Latifi reports from Kabul.
The arrest comes after a video showed him fleeing the city of Ghazni once it fell to the Taliban, he says.
Al Jazeera’s Charlotte Bellis, also reporting from Kabul, later says the governor had made a deal with the Taliban for a safe passage, which led to his arrest.
“The governor has decided to make a deal with the Taliban to get out safely and we understand he was given by the Taliban in exchange for handing over the city,” she says.
Pakistan useful for US only to clean up Afghanistan ‘mess’: Khan
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the US of seeing his country as useful only in the context of the “mess” it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting.
Washington has been pressing Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban to broker an elusive peace deal as negotiations between the fighters and the Afghan government have stalled, and violence in Afghanistan has escalated sharply.
Read more here.
Afghan government offers Taliban share in power
A government source has confirmed to Al Jazeera that the Afghan government has offered the Taliban a share in power so long as the rising violence in the country comes to a halt.
The proposal was delivered through Qatar, the host of Afghan peace talks, according to the source, Al Jazeera’s Ali M Latifi reports from Kabul.
Taliban takes Ghazni city on road to Afghan capital: Official
Taliban fighters capture the city of Ghazni, the 10th provincial capital they have seized in several days.
A senior security official tells Reuters news agency the Taliban had captured Ghazni, which is on the highway between Kabul and the second city of Kandahar, and had occupied all of its government agency headquarters after heavy clashes.
“All local government officials, including the provincial governor, have been evacuated towards Kabul,” says the official who declined to be identified.
Denmark to evacuate current, former local employees
Denmark has agreed to evacuate current and former employees of the Danish embassy or Danish armed forces in Afghanistan due to the worsening security situation, the government says.
Denmark will grant people who have been employed in the previous two years and their close relatives temporary residence permits for two years, the government says.
“The security situation in Afghanistan is serious. The Taliban are gaining ground and developments are accelerating faster than many had feared,” the government says in a statement.
“We have a common responsibility to help the Afghans who are now threatened due to their connection to and contribution to Denmark’s engagement in Afghanistan,” it said.
Last day of Afghanistan talks in Doha
Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Doha, says the third and last day of multination talks on Afghanistan have started in the Qatari capital.
“The delegations we have not yet seen appear here today at the main venue for these talks are the delegations for the Afghan government and the Taliban,” he says.
“I spoke with one member of the Afghan government delegation who said that they expect they will be meeting with the envoys who have assembled here in this hall for around 2pm Doha time [11:00 GMT].”
“The sense that we are getting from all the diplomats is that they are extremely concerned about what’s been going on in Afghanistan and they are trying to come up with some type of joint plan in order to get the situation under control.”
The talks include diplomats and envoys from the US, the UK, the EU, China, Pakistan and Uzbekistan along with the UN.
No German money for Afghanistan if Sharia law introduced: FM
Germany will not provide any financial support to Afghanistan if the Taliban takes over power in the country and introduces Sharia law, its foreign minister tells broadcaster ZDF.
“We provide 430 million euros ($505m) every year, we will not give another cent if the Taliban takes over the country and introduces Sharia law,” Heiko Maas says.
Governor leaves Ghazni city
Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Kabul, says the city of Ghazni has fallen to the Taliban, but there is still fighting around the intelligence compound.
“The governor of Ghazni has actually left the city,” he says.
“This is a significant gain for the Taliban. There has been extensive fighting around the city of Ghazni for some days now. It was always suspected that if another provincial capital was about to fall, this would probably be Ghazni.”
Police headquarters falls to Taliban in Lashkar Gah
The Taliban has captured police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, a provincial capital in southern Afghanistan that is teetering towards being lost to the armed group as suspected US air raids pounded the area, an official said.
By Thursday, the Taliban had taken the building, with some police officers surrendering to the group and others retreating to the nearby governor’s office still held by government forces, said Nasima Niazi, a lawmaker from Helmand.
Niazi said she believed the Taliban attack killed and wounded security force members, but she had no casualty figures.
Taliban launches attacks on Ghazni from several directions
The Taliban appears to be pressing into Ghazni, the capital of Ghazni province, about 130km (80 miles) southwest of Kabul.
Wahidullah Jumazada, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Ghazni, acknowledged the fighters had launched attacks from several directions on the capital, but insisted the government remained in control.
The Taliban posted a video online claiming it had made it inside the provincial capital.
Local sources have told Al Jazeera that fighting continues in Ghazni. The most intense fighting remains near the intelligence headquarters as special forces and the military are fighting to push back the Taliban.
Taliban breaches Kandahar’s central prison, releases prisoners
Local security sources have confirmed Taliban reports that the group has breached the central prison in the city of Kandahar, Al Jazeera’s Ali M Latifi reports from Kabul.
The armed group claims to have freed “hundreds” of prisoners, he said.
“Previously, the Taliban had breached the Kandahar prison in 2008 and 2011, those breaches also led to the escape of hundreds of prisoners.”
UN: Almost 390,000 people newly displaced in Afghanistan
Almost 390,000 people have been newly displaced by conflict in Afghanistan since the start of the year, with a huge spike since May, a UN spokesperson says.
“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that between 1 July and 5 August 2021, the humanitarian community verified that 5,800 internally displaced persons have arrived in Kabul and are seeking safety from the conflict and other threats,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
He added that a multibillion-dollar humanitarian assistance fund for Afghanistan had a shortfall of $800m.