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Taliban captures Afghan provincial capitals of Kunduz, Sar-e-Pul: What you need to know

The Taliban has captured the key Afghan city of Kunduz and also claimed control of government buildings in the northern provincial capital of Sar-e-Pul. The Taliban has seized four provincial capitals since Friday in a rapid offensive that appears to have overwhelmed government forces.

There is also heavy fighting in Herat in the west, and the southern cities of Kandhar and Lashkar Gah.

Thousands of civilians have been displaced during fighting this year.

The US has intensified its airstrikes with Afghan officials, on Taliban positions, said destroyed many militants. But Taliban says airstrike hit only two hospitals and one school in Lashkar gah.

The seizure of Kunduz is the most significant gain for the Taliban. It has a population of 2,70,000 and is considered a gateway for minerals rich provinces. Its highways connect it with big cities and it shares a border with Tajikistan. This route is used for smuggling Afghan opium and heroin to Central Asia. Controlling Kunduz means control of the most important drug smuggling route.

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