The Taliban have captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam after months of fierce fighting in their former bastion of Kandahar, the insurgents and officials said on Thursday.
Dahla Dam, which provides irrigation to farmers via a network of canals as well as drinking water for the provincial capital, was now under Taliban control, local officials told AFP.
“We have seized the Dahla Dam in Arghandab,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP.
Haji Gulbuddin, governor of an adjacent district, confirmed the dam “is now in the control of the Taliban.
“Our security forces... asked for reinforcements but they failed to get it,” he said.
The dam’s capture comes after clashes erupted in neighboring Helmand province this week, just days after the US military formally began withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan.
Kandahar water department chief Tooryalay Mahboobi told AFP the Taliban recently warned Dahla employees not to go to work.
Last month the insurgents blew up a bridge that connected the dam to adjacent districts, an AFP correspondent in Kandahar said.
Dahla was built by the United States nearly 70 years ago to provide water for irrigating land in about seven districts of Kandahar.
In 2019 the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of nearly $350 million to be used partly to expand the reservoir-style project.
The surrounding district has seen intense fighting in the past six months, but officials announced in April that the area had been cleared.
Before retreating, the Taliban planted explosives across the area -- including in residential complexes -- officials said.
In neighboring Helmand, thousands of people have fled their homes in the face of a massive Taliban offensive against government forces.
US warplanes have been providing air support for the Afghan forces despite the drawdown of foreign troops.
The United States was supposed to have pulled all forces out by May 1 under a deal struck with the Taliban last year, but Washington pushed back the date to September 11 -- a move that angered the insurgents.
The pullout of foreign forces comes even as efforts to hammer out a peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban have stalled.
US withdrawal from Afghanistan 2-6 percent complete: Military
Pentagon downplays Taliban attacks on Afghanistan as troops begin withdrawal
US commander warns against attacks on troops in Afghanistan as deadline passes
Pakistan military: 4 soldiers killed near Afghanistan borderA group of militants in Afghanistan fired across the border at troops in southwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least four soldiers before ... World News
US withdrawal from Afghanistan 2-6 percent complete: MilitaryThe United States has completed two to six percent of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, with the equivalent of 60 cargo planes of material so far ... World News
Pentagon downplays Taliban attacks on Afghanistan as troops begin withdrawalThe Pentagon downplayed Monday the impact of attacks by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan over the weekend as US and allied forces began their ... World News
US commander warns against attacks on troops in Afghanistan as deadline passesThe commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan warned on Saturday it would be a mistake for insurgents to attack foreign troops still present in the ... World News
Car bomb kills at least 30, injures dozens in Afghanistan’s eastern Logar provinceA huge car bomb blast killed at least 30 people and injured dozens more in Afghanistan’s eastern Logar province on Friday, officials said.The car ... World News
German military wraps up Afghanistan training mission ahead of withdrawalThe German military in Afghanistan will finish training local forces on Friday and turn its attention to withdrawing from the country, as the United ... World News
NATO official says withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan has begunNATO has begun to withdraw its own mission from Afghanistan following a decision by President Joe Biden to bring US forces home, an alliance official ... World News
As American troops leave Afghanistan, US lawmakers fear dark future for womenUS lawmakers will grill President Joe Biden’s envoy for Afghanistan on Tuesday about how the administration plans to ensure women’s rights will be ... World News
US tells government employees to leave Afghanistan if they canThe State Department also called on US citizens wishing to leave Afghanistan to do so “as soon as possible on available commercial flights” Middle East