Taliban fighters capture more districts in Afghanistan
A government APC passing on a road in a northern district.
Fierce fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces has taken place on the outskirts of three provincial capitals in the northern provinces of Faryab, Balkh and Kunduz.
Since the United States announced plans in April to withdraw its troops with no conditions by Sept 11 after nearly 20 years of conflict, violence has escalated throughout the country as the Taliban occupy more territory.
Peace talks in Doha have largely stalled, officials say, though there have been meetings in recent days and the Taliban say they are committed to talks.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group's leadership had asked fighters to return after they reached the entrance of Mazar-i-Sharif as their top leadership did not want to seize provinces until all US forces had left.
The United States began withdrawing troops on May 1 and has handed some bases over to the Afghan government, which has since given up some areas to the Taliban without a fight.