Earlier this week, Taliban forces in Northern Afghanistan took control of Kunduz, a provincial capital with key strategic importance.
Early on Monday morning, hundreds of Taliban soldiers struck at key political and military targets throughout the city, including the airport, police compound, and governor’s office . Taliban soldiers freed all of the prisoners held within the local jail as they continued to ravage through the city into the late afternoon . Despite government reinforcements arriving later that day, few inroads have been made in taking back the city.
The escalation of the Taliban’s insurgency in Kunduz has many implications. Kunduz acts as a key transportation and commercial hub in Northern Afghanistan, but more importantly serves as a symbolic victory for the Taliban; Kunduz acted as a stronghold for the Taliban while they were in power . This attack is also, “the first provincial capital taken by the Taliban since they lost power in 2001’s US-led invasion” .
Afghan government forces are already stretched thinly due to other assaults across the province from, “hundreds of foreign fighters associated with al-Qaeda, so-called Islamic State and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).  Alarmingly, many of these rebels have begun to join forces against the government. Another contributing factor to the aggravation of violence is the fresh withdrawal of US and NATO forces from the country. 
All of this action follows the induction of Mullah Mansour as the new Taliban leader after the confirmation of the previous leader’s death earlier this year.  His first public message in authority called for, “unity and [was] primarily aimed at calming dissent.”  The Taliban’s recent attack on Kunduz could be Mansour’s attempt at establishing his newfound authority, while also consolidating Taliban power in the Northern Afghanistan.
by Jake Pothast ’16