Afghan President Dismisses Army Chief as 9th Provincial Capital Falls to Taliban

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reportedly has dismissed Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai from his post, after the ninth provincial capital fell to the Taliban early on Wednesday morning.

The Taliban have captured more than a quarter of the country’s provincial capitals in less than a week. Ghani, who flew on Wednesday to the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to check on his security troops there and to give them encouragement as they defend the city, replaced Ahmadzai with Gen. Hebatullah Ali Zai.

The capture of the capitals is the latest salvo in the Taliban offenses that began in May, as the United States began withdrawing troops from the country; the withdrawal is set to be complete by the end of the month. The Taliban attacks on provincial capitals violate the 2020 peace deal between the Taliban and the United States, under which the Taliban committed to not attacking provincial centers.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden called on Afghan leaders to fight for their country, noting that there are more Afghan troops than Taliban fighters. “Afghan leaders have to come together,” Biden told reporters at the White House. Also on Wednesday, Afghanistan’s acting finance minister, Khalid Payenda, resigned and left the country.

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