The Taliban captured a police headquarters Thursday in a provincial capital in southern Afghanistan teetering toward being lost to the insurgents as suspected U.S. airstrikes pounded the area, an official said.Fighting raged in Lashkar Gah, one of Afghanistan’s largest cities in the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, where surrounded government forces hoped to hold onto the capital after the militants’ weeklong blitz has seen them already “The Taliban used civilian houses to protect themselves, and the government, without paying any attention to civilians, carried out airstrikes,” she said.With the Afghan air power limited and in disarray, the U.S. Air Force is believed to be carrying out some series of strikes to support Afghan forces. Aviation tracking data suggested U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers, F-15 fighter jets, drones and other aircraft were involved in the fighting overnight across the country, according to Australia-based security firm The Cavell Group.It’s unclear what casualties the U.S. bombing campaign has caused. The U.S. Air Force’s Central Command, based in Qatar, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.Meanwhile, the Taliban appeared to be pressing into the capital of Ghazni province, some 130 kilometers southwest of Kabul. Wahidullah Jumazada, a spokesman for the provincial governor in Ghazni, acknowledged the insurgents had launched attacks from several directions on the capital, but insisted the government remained in control.The Taliban posted a video online claiming they had made it inside the provincial capital.The success of the Taliban offensive also calls into question whether they would ever rejoin long-stalled peace talks in Qatar aimed at moving Afghanistan toward an inclusive interim administration as the West hoped. Instead, the Taliban could come to power by force — or the country could splinter into factional fighting like it did after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.In Doha, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met with diplomats from China, Pakistan and Russia in an effort to as group warn the Taliban they could again be considered international pariahs if they continue their offensive, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. Khalizad also met with Afghan government and Taliban officials, but the fighting goes on without a sign of it abating.The multiple battle fronts have stretched the government’s special operations forces — while regular troops have often fled the battlefield — and the violence has pushed thousands of civilians to seek safety in the capital.The latest U.S. military intelligence assessment is that Kabul could come under insurgent pressure within 30 days and that if current trends hold, the Taliban could gain full control of the country within a couple of months. 

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