Civilians in Afghanistan have taken up arms to push back against the Taliban as the militants fight for control of a crucial northern city and make deeper territorial inroads with the US set to withdraw all troops by September.

The insurgents are battling to take control of strategic cities in the country’s north, including its regional hub Mazar-e-Sharif, after capturing dozens of districts over the past two months. Local warlords and civilians have joined Afghan troops to push back the advance...

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