Afghanistan replaces army chief as Taliban continues to advance
The Afghan army chief has been replaced amid Taliban offensive, reports said, as the Taliban continued to make rapid advances across Afghanistan capturing key cities. General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai was on Wednesday replaced by Hibatullah Alizai, the commander of the Special Operations Corps, multiple reports including from local media said on Wednesday. "General Hibatullah Alizai, the commander of the Special Operations Corps, was appointed as the chief of army staff, replacing General Wali Ahmadzai, officials confirmed," a tweet by TOLO News read.
As of Thursday morning, the Taliban insurgents have taken control of 10 provincial capitals in the northern region as the US is withdrawing its army troops from the country. Ghazni, which is just 150 kilometres away from the country's capital of Kabul, became the latest city to be captured by the Taliban.
The sacking of the army chief followed a visit by the country's President Ashraf Ghani in Mazar-e-Sharif in the Balkh province, which fall into Taliban control on Wednesday.
Since May, when the US and Nato forces started withdrawing from the country, the Taliban began an assault on major cities and seized control of cities Sar-e-Pol, Sheberghan, Aybak, Kunduz, Taluqan, Pul-e-Khumri, Farah, Zaranj and Faizabad.
As the conflict continues to spiral, the Taliban have also been attacking civilians. UN high commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday said at least 180 people have been killed while more than 1,180 have been wounded in four Afghan cities alone since July 9. Many members of Afghan security forces have also been killed and wounded in the violence.
With the Afghan air power limited and in disarray, the US air force is believed to be carrying out some series of strikes to support Afghan forces. Aviation tracking data suggested US Air Force B-52 bombers, F-15 fighter jets, drones and other aircraft were involved in the fighting overnight across the country, news agency AP reported.