A Taliban flag is visible on a neighboring mountain top.As Afghan forces combat to maintain control, this city of close to half a million people is practically entirely cut off from the rest of the nation. Last week rockets hit the airport runway.According to Kamin, 15 of southern Kandahar provinces 17 districts are now under Taliban control, with about a quarter of the provincial capitals area likewise in the Talibans hands. The city of Zaranj, near the Iranian border, became the very first provincial capital to fall into Taliban control on Friday, according to a federal government source and multiple videos from the city.The countrys swift descent into violence following the withdrawal of United States and NATO soldiers supporting the government has actually stunned many. Sitting in the south of the country, it lies on the junction of the highways from Kabul in the northeast, the city of Herat in the northwest and Quetta in Pakistan, to the south.The Taliban are intent on taking Kandahar, the Islamist fundamentalist groups birth place. While US-backed negotiations in between the Afghan government and the Taliban continue, specialists say the latter wants full control of Afghanistan and will continue to look for leverage for that goal on the battlefield.The large bulk of the Talibans territorial gains have come since the United States withdrawal of forces began in May, after President Joe Bidens announcement that all US battle forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of August.
Dust coats the chairs where the visitors would generally sit. Instead of the chatter of event, gun shots break through the air. Glass is pockmarked with bullet holes.Only 50 yards from the wedding event hall, according to Afghan soldiers, Taliban snipers hidden in civilian homes are firing night and day. A Taliban flag shows up on a nearby mountain top.As Afghan forces fight to maintain control, this city of close to half a million people is almost completely cut off from the rest of the nation. Kandahari MP Gul Ahmad Kamin, hunched down in a vacation home on the citys eastern borders, told CNN the scenario had actually weakened terribly over the past 4 weeks, with the Taliban pressing in on all sides. “We are an island,” he joked, “a Taliban-made island.” The only way to leave the city presently is along a 20-kilometer (12-mile) roadway to the airport and then on a flight out. If the Afghan army loses control of the road, the city will be entirely cut off. Recently rockets hit the airport runway.According to Kamin, 15 of southern Kandahar provinces 17 districts are now under Taliban control, with about a quarter of the provincial capitals territory likewise in the Talibans hands. Elsewhere, Taliban forces are threatening other provincial capitals including Herat and Lashkar Gah. The city of Zaranj, near the Iranian border, ended up being the first provincial capital to fall into Taliban control on Friday, according to a federal government source and numerous videos from the city.The countrys swift descent into violence following the withdrawal of United States and NATO troops supporting the federal government has actually shocked numerous. There are worries even the national capital, Kabul, might fall.Of Afghanistans 34 provincial capitals, Kandahar city is of specific tactical significance. Being in the south of the country, it lies on the junction of the highways from Kabul in the northeast, the city of Herat in the northwest and Quetta in Pakistan, to the south.The Taliban are bent on taking Kandahar, the Islamist fundamentalist groups birthplace. The federal government knows it can not pay for to lose it.”Around the city of Kandahar an extremely heavy war is begun where from 4 sides of the city, every minute there are lots of attacks from the Taliban side and the federal government is attempting to [protect] the city,” Kamin said.”At night when youre sitting with your children and you can not sleep since of the barrage … and every second, something might take place, someone might enter your house, somebody might shoot or from [the] sky a bomb will come and destroy you,” the lawmaker added. “People in this city are waiting on when they will be killed, when will someone will eliminate them, when their house will be destroyed and it is taking place every minute.”Nowhere to goAfghan commandos who took CNN to their base by the deserted wedding event hall state the Taliban snipers concealment in civilian houses makes it more difficult to root them out.”We can not use, you understand, the huge weapons, heavy weapons, for the civilian life,” one soldier told CNN.Following the withdrawal of almost all US forces, American airstrikes in support of Afghan forces can no longer be relied on other than in emergencies.”We feel a bit weak without US airstrikes and ground assistance and devices,” stated Maj. Habibullah Shaheen. “But this is our soil and we need to safeguard it.”Amid the fear and confusion, there is nowhere to go to get away the Taliban hazard.”You can not leave Kandahar due to the fact that all roadways which are linked with the other neighboring provinces are likewise under their control. There is only 2 options– die or do,” Kamin said.For the lawmaker, “do” implies “to encourage different sides to cease fire, to work on peace, to persuade them to not combat, not to eliminate,” he said.But the potential customers for peace are not appealing. While US-backed settlements between the Afghan federal government and the Taliban continue, experts say the latter desires full control of Afghanistan and will continue to look for take advantage of for that goal on the battlefield.The vast bulk of the Talibans territorial gains have come since the United States withdrawal of forces started in May, after President Joe Bidens announcement that all United States combat forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of August. The Pentagon has actually stated about 95% of United States soldiers have actually already left, with the Taliban rapidly expanding their existence to big swaths of nation.We just desire peaceDuring the day, a tense calm commands Kandahar city. The battling has now become a part of daily life. Markets are open and cars and trucks move through the streets, although one baker said even sales of bread had gone way down because the violence skyrocketed. “Its the most important thing in life but still we arent selling– even us,” he stated. Afghanistan– and Kandahar in specific– is no complete stranger to war. The city worked as head office to the Taliban from their emergence from the wreckage of the civil war in the 1990s until they were overthrown in 2001. All those who spoke to CNN stated they had never seen the fighting like this. An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report launched last month stated Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar had treated 2,366 weapon-wounded clients in the very first six months of this year, more than double the variety of patients during the very first 6 months of last year.Nationwide, the ICRC assisted supply treatment and care to more than 49,500 individuals hurt in dispute in the very first 6 months of this year. As the violence escalates, numerous have left looking for security. An estimated 294,000 individuals have been forced from their homes because January, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported on July 21, bringing the overall internally displaced to more than 3.5 million. More than 10,000 individuals are now displaced in Kandahar city, according to the UN.On the outskirts of the city, some 30 families have actually looked for shelter in a makeshift camp in a run down building site on a roundabout.Among the newest arrivals were street supplier Mahmad Ismael and his household of 8, who climbed out of a tuk-tuk. They had just come from the town of Malajad, five miles away, where an hour earlier a massive airstrike had hit 2 stores in the market where Ismael works offering second-hand clothing. The town has actually been captured up in heavy battling between Taliban and Afghan forces in current days, with homemade bombs and shooting declaring lives. The airstrike was the final straw.”Three dead bodies were decomposing outside our home for 3 days, however it was too hazardous to get them. The Taliban is assaulting on one side. The federal government is assaulting the other side. In the middle we are simply losing,” Ismael stated.”We simply desire peace. We need peace. We dont care whos the ruler … People said that when America withdraws there would be peace in Afghanistan however then they withdrew and the war got worse.”Children left fatherlessConditions in the makeshift camp are terrible. There is no toilet. A child screams continuously as we stroll around. Among the men describes that the baby is sick. He nods to three other kids resting on mats looking listless. “He has no daddy. He has no dad. All their fathers [eliminated] in the combating.” Rubbina, a 35-year-old seamstress who offered just her given name, sits quietly with her 2 daughters. Her partner was shot 3 weeks earlier, leaving her alone with the two children. She is scared of what the future will bring.”Every night we hear the battling … Last night I didnt sleep the fear and all night was in my heart,” she told CNN. “I hope that God will have mercy on us which somebody will help us get back to our home.” At 6 p.m. the cellular phone network is shut down and the streets rapidly empty. This is the time the battling normally starts. As darkness falls, the sounds of war can be heard in the city. Tracer fire illuminate the night sky and the call to evening prayer is stressed by shooting and erratic thuds of artillery. The Taliban seem to be increasing their control in Kandahar. Lawmaker Kamin is still confident that Afghan forces can turn it around and he said he has no strategies to leave his home. Ismael, the street supplier, was more negative. “Theres no hope for us as long as the war continues,” he said.Clarissa Ward and Brent Swails wrote and reported from Kandahar. Laura Smith-Spark composed from London.