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Afghan Children playing during sunset in Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz province, in October 2016. Photo: Aref Karimi/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban captured the city of Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz province in southwest Afghanistan, government officials announced Friday, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Zaranj, which has at least 50,000 residents, is the first provincial capital to fall under Taliban control since President Biden announced a military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which has coincided with large territorial gains by the insurgent group and a sharp uptick in violence.

  • Zaranj is situated on the Afghanistan-Iran border and has been a hub for Afghans fleeing the conflict to Iran, according to the Times.

The big picture: The Taliban also assassinated the director of Afghanistan’s government media and information center on Friday in the capital of Kabul, the latest in a series of attacks against government officials.

  • It has claimed almost all of the districts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, according to AP.

Go deeper: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit record high amid U.S troop withdrawal

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

"Atmospheric river" swings parts of Pacific Northwest from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. The storm system claimed the lives of two people in Washington state after a tree fell on a vehicle amid powerful winds Sunday.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California, Oregon and Washington state.