As we woke up here in the U.S. yesterday on a hot, lazy Sunday summer morning, reports were coming in real-time that the Taliban had captured another district capital. The city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan has fallen. This is the fourth district or provincial capital to fall in only three days. Kunduz is one of the largest cities in the country and one of the biggest gains of the Taliban so far this year.

On Friday, the southern city of Zaranj in the Nimroz province fell to the Taliban. Local government officials had been asking the central government for support, after an extended Taliban threat. The BBC reported that “Nimroz’s Deputy Governor Roh Gul Khairzad told reporters that Zaranj had fallen ‘without a fight.’ ‘The city was under threat for a while, but no one from the central government listened to us, Ms. Khairzad said.'”

Will the Afghan National Army Fight?

Gaining Momentum, the Taliban Have Captured Four Regional Capitals in Four Days
Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering in the Alingar district of Laghman Province, Afghanistan on March 2, 2020. (Photo by Noorullah Shirzada/AFP)

As another district capital has fallen, it’s extremely clear that the Taliban are not slowing down. This summer offensive was clearly planned and coordinated in advance. On Friday, a Taliban commander told the Reuters news agency, “This is the beginning, and see how other provinces fall in our hands very soon.” This weekend, they have already made good on that promise.

The Taliban’s rapid advance fits a long and troubling pattern of events in Afghanistan: Without U.S. or Coalition support, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and other government forces too often do not stand and fight the Taliban. This has been going on for years without a solution. We continue to see government forces surrender, and now — which is even worse — also surrender American weapons and equipment to the Taliban.