Afghan officials are once again praising their military for an achievement which amounts to something somewhat short of complete outright defeat, touting them for managing to keep advancing Taliban forces from capturing the key northern city of Kunduz.
At least for the time being. The Taliban actually made significant gains in heavy fighting in Kunduz Province, capturing the strategically important Khanabad District. They may have been stopped short of the city itself, but they’re even closer, and with gains in the neighboring Baghlan Province, it seems like only a matter of time before Kunduz falls.
This would mark the second time in a year that the northern city will have fallen to the Taliban, as they’d also captured the city back in September and held it for months. Afghan reinforcements and US airstrikes eventually drove them out, but the momentum is once again on the Taliban’s side.
And this is just one city that’s being contested right now, as the Taliban has also gotten close to Lashkar Gah, on the opposite side of the country. The Afghan military is strained, with desertion rates and corruption leaving them with many fewer troops in reality than they have on paper, they are struggling to handle fighting on multiple fronts.