The Taliban have made rapid and major advances across Afghanistan in recent months as US and other foreign forces withdraw their troops from the country.
The extremists have now captured much of southern, northern and western Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has 34 provinces.
The following is a timeline of provincial capitals that have fallen to, or are being contested by the extremist militants.
Provincial capital cities now under control of Taliban
August 6 – Zaranj: The Taliban take over the city in Nimroz province in the south, the first provincial capital to fall to the extremist group since they stepped up attacks on Afghan forces in early May.
August 7 – Sheberghan: The Taliban declare they have captured the entire northern province of Jawzjan, including its capital Sheberghan. Heavy fighting is reported in the city, and government buildings are taken over by the extremist militants. Afghan security forces say they are still fighting there.
August 8 - Sar-e-Pul: The extremist group take control of Sar-e-Pul, capital of the northern province of the same name. It is the first of three provincial centers to fall on the same day.
August 8 - Kunduz: Taliban fighters seize control of the northern city of 270,000 people, regarded as a strategic prize as it lies at the gateway to mineral-rich northern provinces and Central Asia. Government forces say they are resisting the Taliban from an army base and the airport.
August 8 – Taloqan: The capital of Takhar province, also in the north, falls to the Taliban in the evening. They free prisoners and force government officials to flee.
August 9 – Aybak: The capital of the northern province of Samangan is overrun by Taliban fighters.
August 10 - Pul-e-Khumri: The capital of the central province of Baghlan falls to the Taliban, according to residents.
August 11 – Faizabad: The capital of the northeastern province of Badakhshan is under Taliban control, a provincial council member says.
August 12 – Ghazni: The Afghan extremist organization takes over the city, capital of the province of the same name, a senior security officer says.
August 12 - Firus Koh: The capital of Ghor province, was handed over to the Taliban on Thursday night without a fight, security officials said.
August 13 - Qala-e-Naw: The Taliban have captured the capital of the northwestern province of Badghis, a security official and the Taliban said.
August 13 – Kandahar: The Taliban have captured Afghanistan’s second biggest city of Kandahar, government officials and the Taliban said.
August 13 - Lashkar Gah: The Taliban have captured the capital of the southern province of Helmand, police said.
August 13 – Herat: Capital of Herat province in the west was under Taliban control after days of clashes, a provincial council member said.
August 14 - Pul-e-Alam: The capital of Logar province fell to the Taliban without much resistance, a local provincial council member said.
The US sends more troops to help evacuate its civilians from Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani says he is consulting with local and international partners on next steps.
August 14 - Mazar-i-Sharif: The capital of Balkh province and the biggest city in the north has fallen to the Taliban, a provincial council official said.
Two of Afghanistan’s most notorious regional leaders fled on Saturday as the northern city fell to the Taliban and security forces abandoned the city in a headlong rush up the highway to the safety of neighboring Uzbekistan.
Atta Mohammad Noor, the former governor of Balkh province and the ethnic Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum have been involved in wars inAfghanistan since the days of the Soviet invasion and had been among the Taliban’s fiercest enemies.
August 14 – Maymana: The capital of the northern province of Faryab was handed over to the Taliban, a provincial official said.
August 15 – Jalalabad: Taliban fighters took control of the key eastern city and capital of Nangarhar province without a fight on Sunday, leaving the territory controlled by the crumbling government to little more than the capital Kabul.
The Taliban captured the key eastern Afghanistan city of Jalalabad without a fight on Sunday, leaving the territory controlled by the crumbling government to little more than the capital Kabul.
“There are no clashes taking place right now in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban,” a Jalalabad-based Afghan official told Reuters. “Allowing passage to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives.”
The fall of Jalalabad gives the extremist group control of a road leading to the Pakistan city of Peshawar, one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.
Provincial capitals being contested
The following provincial capitals are being contested as of August 14.
- Farah, capital of the western province of Farah.
- Sharan, capital of Paktika province.
- Asadabad, capital of Kunar province
- Gardez, capital of Paktia province.
- Nili, capital of central province of Daykundi
According to Reuters, the Taliban have said that they are now close to capturing Maidan Shahr.
The extremist group has no air power and has used artillery and rockets followed by ground assaults while capturing several cities and provincial capitals in recent weeks. Some areas have fallen without a fight as provincial leaders sought to avoid bloodshed and surrendered.
A bloody battle for Kabul could be avoided if a political solution is struck between the government and the Taliban.
The group has insisted it will not negotiate with a government headed by President Ashraf Ghani.
Ghani has shown no inclination to move. On Saturday, he said he was in urgent talks with local leaders and international partners and that “re-integration of the security and defense forces is our priority.”