NNA - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani flew to the besieged northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif Wednesday to rally his beleaguered forces, with Taliban fighters having now taken more than a quarter of the country's provincial capitals in less than a week.
Ghani arrived in Mazar as the Taliban captured Faizabad overnight, making it the ninth city to be overrun since Friday.
He plans "to check the general security in the northern zone", according to a statement released by the palace.
The Afghan leader was also likely to hold talks with Mazar's long-time strongman Atta Mohammad Noor and infamous warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum about the defence of the city, as Taliban fighters inched closer to its outskirts.
The loss of Mazar would be a catastrophic blow to the Kabul government and represent the complete collapse of its control over the north -- long a bastion of anti-Taliban militias.
Hours before Ghani arrived, pictures posted on official government social media accounts showed Dostum boarding a plane in Kabul, along with a contingent of commandos, en route to Mazar.—AFP