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Tide of the Taliban

The Taliban say they’ve captured Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, as the group pushes ahead with its fight against government forces. The government troops have reportedly retreated to a military facility outside the city. Kandahar would be the 12th provincial capital seized by the Taliban. Earlier, the strategic city of Ghazni fell to the militants while reports suggest Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city, has also been captured. Meanwhile, the United States says it’s temporarily sending 3,000 troops to Afghanistan to help evacuate American embassy employees.

Israeli settlements

The Palestinian president strongly condemns Israeli’s plans to build over 2,000 new settler units in the occupied West Bank. President Mahmud Abbas’ office rejected the move, saying it contradicted the US position President Joe Biden expressed in a call with his Palestinian counterpart. The Palestinian foreign ministry also condemned the move as aimed grabbing more Palestinian land and consolidating Israel’s settler-colonialism. The regime’s new plans come despite international criticism against its settlement expansions. In July, a UN human rights investigator said Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank amounts to a war crime. All Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law.

Covid-19 origin probe

The World Health Organization has urged all countries to depoliticize the search for the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The organization also called on China to share raw data from the earliest coronavirus cases to advance the pandemic origins investigation. The WHO stressed that it is vitally important to know how the pandemic began. The UN Health Agency sent a team of international experts to the Chinese city of Wuhan earlier this year. Its first phase report said the virus that causes Covid-19 disease most probably jumped from bats to humans via an intermediary animal. The WHO said the next series of studies would include a further examination of the raw data from the earliest cases in 2019.

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