The Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan

Taliban insurgents entered Kabul on Sunday after previously taking control of all of Afghanistan’s other major cities apart from the capital.

Prior talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government on a political understanding that could lead to a peace deal, backed by the United States and its allies, have failed to make significant progress.

Here are some of the key dates in the Islamist militant movement’s advance in recent months. Other deadly attacks have also occurred, some blamed on the Taliban and some on other jihadist groups including an offshoot of Islamic State.

April 14

U.S. President Joe Biden announces U.S. troops will withdraw from Afghanistan starting on May 1 and ending on Sept. 11, bringing the country’s longest war to a close. It was an extension of the previous withdrawal deadline of May 1 agreed to between the United States and the Taliban.

WATCH | Biden to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11:

Biden to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11

The U.S. and NATO announce they will pull their troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 20 years after the terror attacks on the U.S. But experts are concerned the withdrawal could stall peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. 2:04

May 4

Taliban fighters launch a major offensive on Afghan forces in southern Helmand province. They also attack in at least six other provinces.

May 11

The Taliban capture Nerkh district just outside the capital Kabul as violence intensifies across the country.

Taliban fighter stands guard on a street in Herat on Aug. 14. (AFP/Getty Images)

June 7

Senior government officials say more than 150 Afghan soldiers were killed in 24 hours as fighting worsens. They add that fighting is raging in 26 of the country’s 34 provinces.

June 22

Taliban fighters launch a series of attacks in the north of the country, far from their traditional strongholds in the south. The United Nations envoy for Afghanistan says they have taken more than 50 of 370 districts.

July 2

U.S. troops quietly pull out of their main military base in Afghanistan — Bagram air base, an hour’s drive from Kabul. It effectively ends U.S. involvement in the war.

Afghan army soldiers stand guard after the U.S. military left Bagram air base in Parwan province on July 5. (Rahmat Gul/The Associated Press)

July 5

The Taliban say they could present a written peace proposal to the Afghan government as soon as August.

July 21

Taliban insurgents control about a half of the country’s districts, according to the senior U.S. general, underlining the scale and speed of their advance.

July 25

The United States vows to continue to support Afghan troops “in the coming weeks” with intensified airstrikes to help them counter Taliban attacks.

Smoke rises from the Afghan city of Lashkar Gah after airstrikes against Taliban on Aug. 6. (Abdul Khaliq/The Associated Press)

July 26

The UN says nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June in escalating violence, the highest number for those months since records started in 2009.

Aug. 6

Zaranj in the south of the country becomes the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban in years. Many more follow in the ensuing days, including the prized city of Kunduz in the north.

Aug. 13

Four more provincial capitals fall in a day, including Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city and spiritual home of the Taliban. In the west, another key city, Herat, is overrun. Veteran commander Mohammad Ismail Khan, one of the leading fighters against the Taliban, is captured.

WATCH | Dreams of progress lost with fall of Kandahar:

Dreams of progress lost with fall of Kandahar

For many in Canada, the fall of Kandahar is especially bitter because it was a hub for Canada’s combat mission and filled with dreams of progress that have now been dashed. 2:02

The Canadian government also announces that it intends to take in as many as 20,000 additional refugees from Afghanistan. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino described the policy change as an expansion of the resettlement program announced late last month.

Aug. 14

The Taliban take the major northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and, with little resistance, Pul-e-Alam, capital of Logar province just 70 kilometres south of Kabul. The United States 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.

Aug. 15

The Taliban take the key eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, effectively surrounding Kabul.

Later, Taliban insurgents enter Kabul, an interior ministry official says, as the United States evacuate diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Canada also pulls out personnel

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