The Taliban announced on Tuesday it had withdrawn from Kunduz just 15 days after its surprising takeover of the northern Afghan city. The Taliban offensive in Kunduz, its biggest military victory since 2001, exposed worrying deficiencies in the Afghan military’s ability to contain the increasingly sophisticated insurgent attacks and spurred U.S. forces to rally and support local troops.
The development is, of course, good news, but not an unqualified victory for the U.S.-backed Afghan regime. “The [Taliban’s] tactical retreat after prolonged street battles comes as the insurgents make an unprecedented push to seize other big cities across multiple provinces,” according to Agence France-Presse. The process of pushing Taliban forces out of the city also took a toll. American airstrikes mistakenly hit a medical facility operated by Doctors Without Borders killing some two-dozen people, both staff and patients. Also, the New York Times notes, “during that time [the Taliban] destroyed government offices and facilities, seized military hardware, hunted down opponents, and freed prisoners from the city’s two prisons.”