The Taliban advances continue across Afghanistan despite soaring temperatures – reaching 50 degrees Celsius in the desert areas of Helmand and the South. The cohorts of fighters are closing in on the great historic capitals – Kandahar, Herat, Ghazni and Mazar e Sahrif – but no major centre has yet fallen.
The mayhem and pillage is cruel, murdering and maiming women and children, targeting minorities like the Shiite Hazara, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Turcmen. There is method in the discrimination – the aim seems to be to cow the minorities before the main battles for the capitals are joined.