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Expand chart
Data: Al Jazeera; Map: Axios Visuals

The Taliban has captured more than half of Afghanistan's provincial capitals over the past week, with the insurgents showing no signs of slowing their lightning offensive as they threaten to isolate Kabul and topple the Afghan government.

The latest: The militant group seized the key eastern city of Jalalabad early on Sunday, officials said, per AP and Reuters. Officials told the outlets they negotiated the capital of Nangarhar province's fall without violence.

  • Kabul, some 93 miles west of Jalalabad, is now the only major city still under the control of the Afghan government.

The big picture: The central province of Daykundi, the eastern province of Kunar and the capital of Laghman province, northeast of Kabul, all surrendered to the Taliban on Saturday, AP notes.

  • Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, the second-largest province in the country, also fell to the Taliban earlier on Saturday, per AP. Afghan lawmaker Abas Ebrahimzada said the national army surrendered, prompting the pro-government militias and other forces to retreat.
  • The Taliban also on Saturday swept through the capitals of Paktika (Sharana) and Logar (Pul-e Alam), the latter of which is just miles south of Kabul.

The group captured the provinces of Ghor (Chaghcharan) and Helmand (Lashkar Gah) on Friday, the latter of which was at the center of operations by U.S., British and NATO troops over the last 20 years.

  • The militants also captured the capitals of Uruzgan province (Tirin Kot) and Zabul (Qalat) in the south early Friday.
  • On Thursday, the Taliban took the second- and third-largest cities in Afghanistan — Kandahar and Herat, respectively — as well as Ghazni, which is less than 100 miles from Kabul. Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban movement, delivering the insurgents a massive symbolic victory.
  • The U.S. announced Thursday it will shrink down to a "core diplomatic presence" in Kabul due to the deteriorating security situation, and will send 3,000 troops to the city's international airport to assist in an evacuation effort.

Go deeper: Behind the scenes of the Biden administration as the U.S. ditches Kabul

This story and map will be updated if more capitals are captured.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

Oct 14, 2021 - World

Taliban press Biden to release frozen Afghan assets as economy shrivels

Afghans wait outside a bank in hopes of withdrawing cash, watched by a Taliban fighter. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty

With the Afghan government and economy starved of cash, the Taliban are pressing their claim to the roughly $8 billion in Afghan foreign reserves that have been frozen by the U.S.

Why it matters: Afghanistan is barreling into a humanitarian crisis, and donor countries and international institutions have cut off the aid that accounted for some 75% of the previous government’s budget.

5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.

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