U.S. intelligence estimates that the Taliban could take over Afghanistan's capital city, Kabul, within 90 days as the radical Islamist group continues its sweeping conquest of the northern part of the country, according to a report.
Reuters reported that Taliban forces have taken control of 65% of Afghanistan, now occupying eight provincial capitals and within reach of taking three more. A U.S. intelligence assessment found that Kabul could be isolated within the next 30 days.
Speaking to Reuters, an anonymous defense official said it is not a "foregone conclusion" that the Taliban will take control of Kabul, observing that Afghan security forces can still resist the insurgents.
"It was not immediately clear if this was consensus view of the intelligence community or if different intelligence agencies had different views, which would not be uncommon," Reuters reported.
The speed with which the Taliban has rapidly exerted control of the country since President Joe Biden began withdrawing U.S. forces has stunned military and national security officials, Axios reported Wednesday, though the president intends to complete the withdrawal of U.S. troops by Aug. 31.
"Senior U.S. officials privately express little confidence in the Afghan security forces, citing military incompetence, disorganization and poor communications skills rendering them unable to adequately coordinate U.S. air support to protect territory against the Taliban," Axios reported.
On Tuesday, the Taliban overran three towns and a day later forced hundreds of Afghan soldiers to surrender near the provincial capital of Kunduz, the Washington Post reported. Taliban fighters received supplies and equipment from the Afghan soldiers, who were promised they would not be harmed in exchange for their surrender.
"I don't know why the commanders did not gather their forces and fight until the last drop of their blood, with all the guns, resources and ammunition they had in the airport and the corps," Zargul Alemi, a member of the Kunduz provincial council who fled the province before the soldiers surrendered, said.
She told the Post that the Taliban were given Humvees, weapons, and other supplies after the soldiers gave up the fight.
The U.S. is still supporting Afghan forces with airstrikes, but Biden's troop withdrawal is progressing with the goal of going to zero American soldiers in combat by September.
Despite the Taliban's gains, Biden told reporters Tuesday, "I do not regret my decision" to withdraw from Afghanistan.
"We spent over a trillion dollars, over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces ... they've got to fight for themselves," the president said.