Hundreds of Afghan troops surrender to Taliban near Kunduz

Hundreds of Afghan security forces on Wednesday surrendered to the Taliban near the northern city of Kunduz, which was seized by the militant group earlier this week.

The Washington Post reports an entire Afghan army corps surrendered to the Taliban and handed over valuable equipment, including weapons and vehicles.

Kunduz provincial council member Zargul Alemi said that local elders had previously met with Afghan security forces and asked them to surrender, as the Taliban had pledged not to harm them. According to Alemi, a small faction of security forces retreated to nearby mountains after some others agreed to surrender.

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“I don’t know why the commanders did not gather their forces and fight until the last drop of their blood, with all the guns, resources and ammunition they had in the airport and the corps,” Alemi said, according to the Post.

On Sunday, it was reported that the Taliban had seized Kunduz, which serves as an important commercial hub near the border with Tajikistan. Many residents reportedly attempted to flee the city shortly before the Taliban descended upon it.

The militant group has quickly seized numerous provincial capitals in Afghanistan since the U.S. and NATO began to withdraw their military forces, with European Union officials saying that the group now controls around 65 percent of Afghanistan's territory.

On Wednesday, the Taliban seized three more provincial capitals, including the city of Faizabad.

"With the fall of Faizabad the whole of the northeast has come under Taliban control," Faizabad provincial council member Jawad Mujadidi told Reuters.

The Post reported on Wednesday that U.S. officials have warned that Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul could be overtaken much sooner than initially believed, with the city possibly falling to the Taliban within the month. 

“Everything is moving in the wrong direction,” one official said.