WATCH | Taliban fighters take Kunduz City.
The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating and the street-to-street gun fights between Afghan security forces backed by U.S. troops against the Taliban in Kunduz city is just the beginning, U.S. and Afghan officials say.
The battle for Kunduz City
Now in its fourth day, fighting to clear pockets of Taliban resistance has centered around Kunduz City.
Footage shot by the Taliban and obtained by Circa shows fighters on Tuesday as they walk through the center of the city and taking control of what appears to be an abandoned Afghan police checkpoint.
At one point one fighter gives the date and time and another is seen yelling, "Alhamdulillah," meaning praise God.
The fighting continues
A U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition on anonymity because he or she was not authorized to speak on the matter, said "that while the Taliban has pushed into the city, Kunduz is still being actively contested."
Department of Defense spokesman Adam Stump said that the U.S. military was providing land and air support.
"U.S.troops in Kunduz province are enabling, training, advising and assisting the Afghan security forces," Stump said.
Who's in control?
Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Seddiqi says that while there are pockets of Taliban resistance, Afghan forces have control of most of the city.
"There are still areas where the Taliban and TTP (Terek-e-Taliban) are in control of but our forces were able to clear two big areas, which are the first and second district in Kunduz city.
The Taliban says it has primary control
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Circa in an email that his forces control two-thirds of the city and blamed civilian attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces.
"The people of Kunduz are also witnesses to the deliberate targeting by U.S. aircrafts of bazaars and civilian homes," Mujahid said.
The U.S. and Afghan governments deny these claims.
Mujahid said some Afghan security forces have surrendered to the Taliban, turning over their weapons and vehicles.
He said Afghan military personnel cannot find a way out and are waiting for U.S. airstrikes to assist them.
Last year, Taliban fighters held the city for 15 days in October before being pushed out by Afghan military forces. It was the first time in 14 years that the Taliban had taken back a city since the start of the war. He said their goal is to "cause enemy casualties, dent their morale, seize their equipment and in the end liberate Kunduz completely."
Mujahid's Twitter claims these are Afghan troops.
As many as 10,000 people have been forced from their homes, and the United Nations has warned of a rapid deterioration of conditions for those trapped in the city. Most medical professionals have evacuated from the city.
Seddiqi told Circa Wednesday that Taliban fighters are hiding out inside the homes of the civilian population.
Kunduz is a strategic provenience. Last year, it fell for three weeks to the Taliban before Afghan and U.S. forces brought fully back under government control.
The role of U.S. airstrikes
U.S. aircraft has played a major role in the battle. Conducting three major airstrikes against insurgency positions in the late night hours Monday on the outskirts of the northern city.
Not a major U.S. priority now
Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS forces are reconstituting, building training camps and recruiting more, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. Yet, the issue is rarely discussed and is not a major issue amid the topics brought up by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
More than 9,000 U.S. troops are still serving in the region and though President Obama wanted that number to drop to 5400 by the end of the year, he had to reassess his decision saying in July, that Afghanistan "remains precarious" and will end his term with 8400 U.S. troops.
Contractors are frustrated
"Afghanistan isn't going away, in fact, it's getting worse," says a U.S. contractor working in Afghanistan who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the subject."On November 9th the new U.S. president is about to inherit a shit-storm that's been ignored for far too long," the contractor added.
For more news of the day, check out our 60 Second Circa.