Afghan and Taliban forces clashed again on the outskirts of Herat Saturday, a day after a police guard was killed when a United Nations compound in the western city came under attack.
Violence has surged across the country since early May, when the Taliban launched a sweeping offensive as US-led foreign forces began a final withdrawal that is now almost complete.
Officials and residents reported renewed fighting on the outskirts of Herat Saturday, with hundreds fleeing their homes to seek shelter closer to the heart of the city.
They have made rapid gains in rural areas since it was announced almost all foreign troops would go by September.
But the fate of these key cities could be crucial amid fears of a humanitarian crisis and how long government forces will be able to hold out.
The Islamist militia is already thought to have captured up to half of all Afghanistan’s territory, including lucrative border crossings with Iran and Pakistan.
One MP in Kandahar told the BBC the city was at serious risk of falling, with tens of thousands of people already displaced and a humanitarian disaster looming.
Gul Ahmad Kamin said the situation was getting worse hour by hour, and the fighting within the city was the most severe in 20 years.—Agencies