Squeezing Kabul, Taliban take 10th Afghan provincial capital

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Taliban have captured a strategic provincial capital near Kabul and broken through defensive lines in Afghanistan’s third-largest city. The advance further squeezes the country’s embattled government just weeks before the end of the American military mission there some 20 years after U.S. and NATO troops ousted the Taliban government.

The seizure of Ghazni on Thursday cuts off a crucial highway linking the Afghan capital with the country’s southern provinces.

Meanwhile, the assault on the city of Herat could put nearly all of western Afghanistan under Taliban control. Thousands of people have fled their homes amid fears the Taliban will again impose a brutal, repressive government.

Peace talks in Qatar remain stalled, though diplomats met throughout the day.