Mazar-i-Sharif, the last government-held city in northern Afghanistan has been captured by Taliban fighters. The capture of Mazar, an anti-Taliban enclave for decades, was the latest catastrophe to befall the Afghan government. The Taliban now controls the majority of Afghanistan and is moving closer to the capital city of Kabul. The speed of the Taliban’s advance has been bolstered by the near-complete collapse of government military forces. The fact that Mazar fell practically without a fight only underscores the present condition of government military and security forces. Along with Mazar, two other smaller cities came under Taliban control today; Asadabad and Sharan. As of this evening the only major cities still being held by the government are Kabul and Jalalabad.
As conditions deteriorate for the Afghan government, Western nations are preparing to evacuate their embassy staffs and other nationals. The US is moving military forces into Kabul right now. There are 1,000+ troops on the ground at present, mostly US Marines. By late next week 3,000 Marines will be on the ground. This afternoon, the White House announced that it will be sending more troops to Afghanistan. A brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to the region in the coming days. One battalion from the brigade will fly into Kabul while the other two will stage in Kuwait and serve as reserve force. When all is said and done, US troop numbers are expected to peak at around 5,000.