The Taliban seized Mazar-i-Sharif, a major city in northern Afghanistan, Saturday as the Islamic radicals continue an offensive to capture more cities and provinces across the country.
Al Jazeera reports that insurgents have captured much of northern, western, and southern Afghanistan. On Thursday, Taliban took over Kandahar and Herat then Lashkar Gah just hours later. These are the areas where hundreds of U.S. troops lost their lives while trying to rebuild the region.
Thousands of people are fleeing the area as Taliban maintain control of nearly two-thirds of the war-torn country.
While forces move closer to the capital Kabul, U.S. and European countries have started evacuating their embassy staff.
Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek confirmed that the Czech Republic would evacuate its two diplomats Saturday.
“I have decided on the immediate evacuation of our diplomats to the international airport in Kabul,” Kulhanek said.
During a televised speech on Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed the country, promising not to abandon the “achievements” they gained since the U.S. upset the Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We have started consultations, inside the government with elders and political leaders, representatives of different levels of the community as well as our international allies,” Ghani said. “Soon the results will be shared with you.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned that “Afghanistan is spinning out of control” and urged the group to stop its offensive.
“This is the moment to start serious negotiation. This is the moment to avoid a prolonged civil war, or the isolation of Afghanistan,” Guterres told reporters.
The Biden administration is negotiating with Taliban leaders to spare the embassy, saying it must remain open and secure if the group hopes to receive American financial aid and other assistance.
The Taliban’s re-energized war is leaving behind a looming humanitarian crisis, uprooting an expected 300,000 families with no place to call home.
In an effort to support Afghan supporters of the U.S., 1,200 allied Afghan refugees have already been brought to the U.S. with visas. The government expects to help thousands more.