On Friday, militants captured Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province, just 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the capital, Kabul The UN chief said the situation was spiraling out of control with devastating consequences for the civilian population.
So far, more than 250,000 people have been forced from their homes.
The Taliban advance comes as US and foreign troops withdraw after 20 years of military operations. The fighting has raised fears that the human rights gains made since the militants were ousted from power in 2001 could be quickly reversed.
Life under the Taliban in the 1990s saw women forced to wear the all-covering burqa, restricted education for girls over 10, and brutal punishments including public executions.
Also on Friday, the Taliban seized the country’s second-largest city, Kandahar, and the nearby city of Lashkar Gah, as well as Herat in the west. They now control about a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby called the recent developments “deeply disturbing” but played down any suggestion that Kabul was under imminent threat from the group.
Most of the 3,000 troops sent to help evacuate US diplomatic personnel will arrive by the end of the weekend. The United States intends to airlift thousands of people a day out of Kabul.
The latest US intelligence assessment suggests that the militants could attempt to advance to the national capital in 30 days The US embassy there informed staff that an incinerator and other tools were available to destroy sensitive material, including documents and equipment, such as flags, that could be used in propaganda.
The UK, which is sending 600 soldiers to assist in the evacuation of British citizens and former Afghan staff, said staffing at its embassy would be reduced to an absolute minimum, as would Germany.
Denmark and Norway are closing their embassies completely.
US-led forces toppled the Taliban: In 2001, US-led forces toppled the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks planned by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who had his base there Twenty years of occupation and military operations followed: the United States and its allies oversaw the elections and created Afghan security forces, but the Taliban continued to launch attacks.
Finally, the United States made a deal with the Taliban: they would withdraw if the militants agreed not to host terrorist groups. But talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government failed. US-led forces withdrew this year and the Taliban have retaken most of the country.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Taliban to end the fighting and urged the international community to make clear that power taken by military force is unacceptable.
“Every day, the conflict is taking an even greater toll on women and children. Continued urban conflict will mean continued carnage with civilians paying the highest price, ”he said.
Food and medical supplies are dwindling and critical infrastructure, including schools and clinics, has been destroyed, he said. The UN has called on neighboring countries to keep their borders open, to allow people to reach safety.
More than 1,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan in the past month alone, according to the UN Makeshift camps have been set up in the bush outside the capital, while many of those seeking safety in Kabul have been sleeping in the streets About 72,000 children are among those who fled to the capital in recent days, according to Save the Children Zuhal, a 20-year-old student who has been helping the displaced, “Ceasefire, just like an immediate ceasefire, just stop the fighting because we can’t get up another day and see a child full of blood, a mother crying for her child, we can no longer see that. ”
In a separate event, Canada said it planned to resettle more than 20,000 vulnerable Afghans, including women leaders, human rights workers, and journalists.