As the insurgent organization pushes closer to Kabul, the capital, the Taliban have taken control of Afghanistan's second-largest city and some other provincial capitals.

Afghan Member of Parliament Gul Ahmad Kamin, who spoke to CNN on Friday, mentioned that Kandahar had been captured. The city, located in the country's south, has been under Taliban siege for weeks. Another Taliban spokesman confirmed to NBC News that the group's militants had conquered both cities, capitals of the same regions.

Experts believe its loss will spell the end for the country's U.S.-backed administration.

Later that day, militants took control of several additional cities. Taliban now hold control of 17 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial capitals, all taken within the last week.

The group has gained territory in the north, which has traditionally been a stronghold for anti-Taliban forces. It now has control of cities and regions within 62 miles of Kabul, including Logar province's capital, which fell on Friday.

In a statement released Friday, the Taliban claimed possession of the governor's office, police headquarters, and other major operational hubs throughout Kandahar. "Hundreds of weapons, vehicles and ammunition were seized," the Taliban statement said per Washington Examiner (via Yahoo! News).

Taliban insurgents had broken through the city's frontline and were clashing with government forces on an intermittent basis.

Kandahar, which sits at the crossroads of three main routes, is strategically important and served as a significant hub for U.S. military activities in the past. Its capture is the Taliban's most significant victory to date.

The government lost control of Tarin Kot, the adjacent capital of Urozgan province on Friday.

CNN, citing a local journalist, said the Taliban now control the governor's office, police headquarters, and the major jail. According to the journalist, the city fell to the Taliban without a struggle because tribal elders agreed not to oppose their march.

The vast majority of the Taliban's territorial gains have occurred since American soldiers began withdrawing in May and are expected to be finished by late August.

According to a senior administration official familiar with the latest US intelligence assessment on Afghanistan, Kabul might fall into the Taliban's hands within 30 to 90 days.

The Associated Press said the U.S. prepared to send in 3,000 troops to help evacuate staff from the US Embassy in Kabul with security deteriorating rapidly. The United Kingdom and Canada are also sending troops to assist with the evacuations. Denmark has announced that its embassy in Kabul will be temporarily closed, while Germany has reduced its embassy staff to an "absolute minimum."

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans had left their homes. The Afghans are fearful that the Taliban would return to the violent, repressive regime they established when they were in power at the turn of the millennium.

At the time, the group had almost wholly eradicated women's rights and was carrying out public executions while imposing a harsh form of Islamic law. Insurgents paraded two alleged looters around the streets of Herat on Friday, with black paint smeared on their faces, as an early warning of such tactics.

A stranded Afghan national carries his son at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 13, 2021, after the Taliban took control of the Afghan border town in a rapid offensive across the country. AFP via Getty Images

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