In a clear sign of the collapse of the resistance against the marauding Taliban, the residence of famed Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum was ransacked by the militia on Sunday.
Dostum, who is also the Marshal of Afghan National Army and a former vice-president, had held off against the Taliban for decades, after forging formidable anti-Taliban alliance in the Northern Territories.
Weapons Looted From Warlord's House
The raid on his house in the northern Jawzjan province happened days after the warlord, who was once a close close confidant of Communist era leader Mohammad Najibullah, returned to Afghanistan from Turkey, where he was apparently under medical treatment.
The Taliban, who have taken control over many major northern provinces, looted all his weapons from his house, reports said. A video footage showed the Taliban loading arms, including AK-47 rifles, into a vehicle, according to Asian News International news agency.
Dostum had arrived in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal signaled the fearful prospect of Taliban running over the country.
Taliban Capture Key Provinces
The Taliban captured Sheberghan city, the capital of Dostum's Jawzjan province on Saturday. The city's deputy governor confirmed the news a day after the capital of Nimruz province fell to the armed group.
Al Jazeera reported that the Taliban took control of five provincial capitals since Friday in blitzkrieg. Kunduz, Sar-e-Pol and Taloqan provinces fell to the fighters without a fight on Sunday. Taliban said it seized the police headquarters, governor's compound and the prison in Kunduz.
"Heavy clashes started yesterday afternoon, all government headquarters are in control of the Taliban, only the army base and the airport is with ANDSF [Afghan security forces] from where they are resisting the Taliban," a member of Kunduz provincial assembly told the news network.
An official from Sar-e-Pol province, told Reuters that Taliban has taken control of government buildings in the provincial capital.
In the aftermath of the US departure from Afghanistan, Taliban have taken control of vast swathes of land in the rural belt, and are trying to capture large cities as they signal that they are not looking to share power in a political settlement.
Intense fighting is going on around the capitals of many southern including Kandahar and Helmand. Talks for a political settlement have stalled in recent days as the resurgent Taliban calculates that they are in a position to ride roughshod over the Afghan military resistance.
Meanwhile, military strategists worry that the Taliban's asymmetrical warfare is leading to higher casualties of civilians.
"Approximately two-thirds of the casualties have been women and children and that speaks to the Taliban's modus operandi which is that they're using civilian homes to hide but also launching attacks and that is creating a terrible toll for civilians," Ahmad Shuja Jamal, head of international affairs at Afghanistan's National Security Council, told Al Jazeera.
The fall of Jawzjan province and the brazen overrunning of Dostum's stronghold signals that the Taliban is in a formidable position, with the storied warlords not being able to stop the outfit in its tracks.
In the 90s, Dostum and his ally Ahmad Shah Massoud had stitched together a fearsome resistance against the Taliban.
According to reports, the head of Jawzjan provincial council was under a Taliban siege alongside a clutch of around 20 fighters with him.
The US and Afghan air force intensified air strikes against Taliban strongholds in the north but the armed outfit has threatened that if the air strikes continue they will target senior government officials in retaliation.