US sends in B-52s in desperate bid to stop the Taliban seizing key Afghan cities - where British troops fought and died - as fighters seize prison and set all the inmates free in latest town to fall

 US President Joe Biden has ordered B-52 bombers and Spectre gunships to target Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan who are advancing towards three key cities. 

The Cold War-era strategic bomber first flew in the 1950s but is still used due to its 70,000lb payload and range of more than 8,000 miles. 

They are being supported by the AC-130 Spectre gunships which are armed with a 25mm Gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors cannon and a 105mm M102 cannon - which can provide pinpoint accurate fire from the air. 

The Taliban have been advancing across Afghanistan after the US-led coalition pulled out of the war torn country, leaving the nation's struggling defence forces to deal with the terrorists.    

Earlier today, the Taliban captured Sheberghan city in Jawzjan, the area's deputy governor confirmed to AFP. 

It is the second provincial capital to fall to the insurgents over the past 24 hours after Zaranj fell yesterday. 

A video has emerged on social media which appears to show prisoners fleeing in Shiberghan after the Taliban managed to gain control of the prison.

Similarly, another clip on Twitter appeared to show something similar had happened in Zaranj, more than 700 miles away. 

Members of the anti-Taliban 'Sangorians' militia have been involved in bitter fighting with the Islamic terrorists in Lashkar Gar in Helmund Provice

Members of the anti-Taliban 'Sangorians' militia have been involved in bitter fighting with the Islamic terrorists in Lashkar Gar in Helmund Provice 

A video has emerged on social media which appears to show prisoners fleeing in Shiberghan after the Taliban managed to gain control of the prison

A video has emerged on social media which appears to show prisoners fleeing in Shiberghan after the Taliban managed to gain control of the prison

The B-52 bomber can carry up to 32 tonnes of munitions and has a range of 8,800 miles

The B-52 bomber can carry up to 32 tonnes of munitions and has a range of 8,800 miles 

British troops, pictured in 2006 previously patrolled the area around Lashkar Gah, which is now threatened with being over-run by the Taliban

British troops, pictured in 2006 previously patrolled the area around Lashkar Gah, which is now threatened with being over-run by the Taliban

The Taliban are also pressing Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar, where British troops were deployed during the Afghan campaign almost a decade ago.  

Qader Malia, Jawzjan deputy governor said: 'The (government) forces and officials have retreated to the airport.' 

The Afghan air force is reliant on US supplied aircraft and helicopters which are now running out of spares and trained technicians since the withdrawal of American contractors. 


US defence sources told The Times that the B-52s and AC-130s are targeting insurgents around Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gar in Helmand Province. 

The B-52s are operating out of Qatar, while the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is on deployment in the Arabian Sea. The nuclear powered warship has a fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornets. 

The Afghan Air Force is equipped with some turbo-prop light attack aircraft such as the A-29 Super Tucano, though only 30 pilots have been qualified since 2015. 

Another clip on Twitter appeared to show something similar had happened in Zaranj, more than 700 miles away

Another clip on Twitter appeared to show something similar had happened in Zaranj, more than 700 miles away

The AC-130 Spectre gunship has a 25mm Gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors cannon and a 105mm cannon - making it an aerial artillery platform

The AC-130 Spectre gunship has a 25mm Gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors cannon and a 105mm cannon - making it an aerial artillery platform 

Buildings turned to rubble after Kabul car bomb kills 8 civilians
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The final US military personnel are due to be withdrawn from Afghanistan on August 31, which has led to the Taliban offensive.  

The government did not deny politician Mohammad Karim Jawzjani's claim that Taliban fighters had entered Sheberghan, but said the city had not fallen.

If the city falls, it will be the second provincial capital in as many days to succumb to the Taliban.

Several other of the country's 34 provincial capitals are threatened.

On Friday, the Taliban took control of the southwestern Nimroz provincial capital of Zaranj, where the government says it is still battling insurgents inside the capital.

Sheberghan is particularly strategic because it is the stronghold of US allied Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, whose militias are among those resurrected to aid the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces.

Heavy airstrikes were reported by residents of Sheberghan who also said the Taliban had freed prisoners from the city jail.

They requested to remain anonymous fearing retaliation from both sides.

The Taliban also captured its first regional capital - the city of Zaranj, in Nimroz province near the border with Iran, as it pushed to retake control of the country

The Taliban also captured its first regional capital - the city of Zaranj, in Nimroz province near the border with Iran, as it pushed to retake control of the country 

UN worried about civilians in Afghanistan's Lashkar Gah city
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Taliban fighters have swept through large swathes of Afghanistan at surprising speed, initially taking districts, many in remote areas.

In recent weeks they have laid siege to several provincial capitals across the country as the last US and Nato troops leave the country.

The US Central Command says the withdrawal is more than 95 per cent complete and will be finished by August 31.

The US Air Force continues to aid the Afghan air force's bombing of Taliban targets in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces as Afghan security forces try to prevent a Taliban takeover. 

In Helmand's provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan's elite commando forces aided by regular troops were trying to dislodge the Taliban but with little success, said Nafeeza Faiez, a provincial council member.

Taliban troops are in control of nine of the city's 10 police districts.

Ms Faiez said conditions for residents are desperate as they hunker down inside their homes, unable to get supplies or get to hospitals for treatment.

Many of the public buildings have also been badly damaged in the fighting.

She said: 'People have no access to any service.' 

More than half of Afghanistan's 421 districts and district centres are now in Taliban hands.

While many are in remote regions, some are extremely strategic, giving the Taliban control of lucrative border crossings with Iran, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

The insurgent force on Friday closed one of the country's most lucrative borders with Pakistan at Spin Boldak in southeastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban were protesting against a demand from Pakistan that all Afghans crossing the border must have Afghan passports and Pakistani visas.

The group said Pakistan was implementing the demands of the Afghan government and demanded that previous procedures in which identities were rarely checked as people crossed the border be reinstituted. 

As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the Government has advised all UK nationals in Afghanistan to leave the country immediately due to the 'worsening security situation'. 

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's website was updated on Friday, advising against all travel to Afghanistan.

The change in advice comes in the face of growing turmoil in Afghanistan, as Taliban forces sweep across the country.

The advice on the website states: 'All British nationals in Afghanistan are advised to leave now by commercial means. 


Government has advised UK nationals in Afghanistan to leave due to the 'worsening security situation'. Pictured: Afghan militia support Afghanistan security forces against the Taliban

Government has advised UK nationals in Afghanistan to leave due to the 'worsening security situation'. Pictured: Afghan militia support Afghanistan security forces against the Taliban

'If you are still in Afghanistan, you are advised to leave now by commercial means because of the worsening security situation.

'The level of consular assistance the British Embassy can provide in Afghanistan is extremely limited, including in a crisis. Do not rely on the FCDO being able to evacuate you from Afghanistan in an emergency.

'In arranging your departure from Afghanistan, ensure your travel documents are up to date and that you have the necessary visas for onward travel.'

It added: 'Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Afghanistan. Specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication.

'You should note an overall increased threat to Western interests in Kabul. Follow the instructions of local authorities. There is a high threat of kidnapping throughout the country.'

Afghanistan was already on the Government's travel red list amid of the country's coronavirus situation, but fighting has also intensified in recent days.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's website (pictured) was updated on Friday, advising against all travel to Afghanistan

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office's website (pictured) was updated on Friday, advising against all travel to Afghanistan

The change in advice comes in the face of growing turmoil in Afghanistan, as Taliban forces sweep across the country. Pictured: Afghan security forces as site of car bomb blast in Kabul

The change in advice comes in the face of growing turmoil in Afghanistan, as Taliban forces sweep across the country. Pictured: Afghan security forces as site of car bomb blast in Kabul

On Friday, the Taliban assassinated a senior Afghan government official inside his car in the capital Kabul as it steps up its bloody drive to recapture the country.

Dawa Khan Menapal, head of the government's media information centre, was shot dead near a mosque in the city on Friday, just a day after defence minister Bismillah Mohammadi escaped a bomb and gun attack.

Menapal's assassination is the most high-profile killing the Taliban has carried out during the most-recent campaign, and shows it is able to operate within Kabul - one of the few cities that is not yet under direct attack.  

'He (Menapal) was a young man who stood like a mountain in the face of enemy propaganda, and who was always a major supporter of the (Afghan) regime,' said Mirwais Stanikzai, a spokesperson of the interior ministry. 

Late on Tuesday, the attack on Mohammadi in a heavily guarded upmarket Kabul neighbourhood killed at least eight people and wounded 20. The minister was unharmed.

Meanwhile, the group's Islamist fighters captured their first regional capital - Zaranj, in Nimroz province near Iran - marking their most-significant battlefield victory against government forces to date. 

Residents in Helmand's contested provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, said airstrikes destroyed a market in the centre of the city — an area controlled by the Taliban. Afghan officials say the Taliban now control nine out of the 10 districts of the city. 

Social media was also filled with videos of the devastating toll the fighting has taken in the southern city of Lashkar Gah, with posts showing a major market area in flames.

Dawa Khan Menapal was shot dead on Friday, after minister Bismillah Mohammadi escaped a bomb attack. Pictured: Afghan security at scene of bomb explosion in Kabul on August 4

Dawa Khan Menapal was shot dead on Friday, after minister Bismillah Mohammadi escaped a bomb attack. Pictured: Afghan security at scene of bomb explosion in Kabul on August 4

Aid group Action Against Hunger said its offices had been hit by an 'aerial bomb' in the city earlier this week, according to a statement released by the organisation on Friday.

'The building was marked from the street and roof as a non-governmental (NGO) organisation, and the office location has been communicated often to the parties involved in the conflict,' said the group, adding that no staff had been harmed.

In the western city of Herat, a steady stream of people were leaving their homes in anticipation of a government assault on positions held by the Taliban.

'We completely evacuated,' said Ahmad Zia, who lived in the western part of the city.

'We have nothing left and we do not know where to go,' he told AFP. 

American forces are now sending B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships and Reaper drones to try and push the jihadists back from other capitals such as Lashkar Gah, Herat and Kandahar, which have come under heavy attack in recent days. 

It appears America's hand has been forced after the Afghan airforce all-but collapsed after Joe Biden ordered US forces out of the country earlier this year.

The troops took with them an army of contractors that were being used to maintain the helicopters and jets Afghan pilots were hoping to use to defend against the Taliban assault.

American forces are now sending B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships and Reaper drones to try and push the jihadists back from Herat. Pictured Afghan government forces in Herat

American forces are now sending B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships and Reaper drones to try and push the jihadists back from Herat. Pictured Afghan government forces in Herat

Residents in Helmand's contested provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, said airstrikes destroyed a market in the centre of the city - an area controlled by the Taliban

Residents in Helmand's contested provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, said airstrikes destroyed a market in the centre of the city - an area controlled by the Taliban

Afghan government forces in Herat, one of the few regional capitals holding out well against the Islamists who are attacking in force across the country

Afghan government forces in Herat, one of the few regional capitals holding out well against the Islamists who are attacking in force across the country

More than a third of the force's 162 aircraft are thought to be out of action due to a repair blacklog and lack of spare parts.

Pilots - who have also been targeted for execution by the Taliban - are said to be exhausted and demoralised due to non-stop missions, while munitions are also running low.

The Taliban have quickly recaptured much of Afghanistan behind the backs of withdrawing US and NATO forces, who began departing the country earlier this year after two decades of fighting.  

Due to be complete by the end of August, in fact sources on the ground say the withdrawal is in-effect complete already.

President Ashraf Ghani has put the Taliban's rapid advance down to pulling his forces back into cities which are easier to defend and crucial for control of the country.  

The Taliban already control large portions of the countryside, and are now challenging government forces in several provincial capitals. 

US sends in B-52s in desperate bid to stop the Taliban seizing key Afghan cities - where British troops fought and died - as fighters seize prison and set all the inmates free in latest town to fall US sends in B-52s in desperate bid to stop the Taliban seizing key Afghan cities - where British troops fought and died - as fighters seize prison and set all the inmates free in latest town to fall Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:05 Rating: 5

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