– The Taliban says it has withdrawn completely from the northern city of Kunduz, ending its first takeover of any Afghan city during the last 14 years of war.

After overrunning the city on Sept. 28, the insurgents held onto it long enough to destroy government offices and facilities, hunt down opponents and allow prisoners to escape the city’s two prisons. But in the end, the Taliban fighters abandoned their efforts to retain control after 15 days.

In taking over Kunduz, the insurgents delivered a shock to hopes that the Afghan security forces could dependably defend the country’s most important cities. In Kunduz, several hundred Taliban fighters all but routed as many as 7,000 Afghan government defenders.

Kunduz is now nominally within government hands, although the shift comes days after the government first claimed it had retaken the city. At several points of seeming government success, the ­Taliban surged back.

On Monday night, according to Afghan officials, the insurgents made several attempts to destroy strategic bridges on the outskirts of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth-largest city. The officials said Afghan forces managed to save the bridges.

On Tuesday, the Taliban posted a statement saying it was ordering fighters to withdraw from the city to save ammunition and the lives of its fighters, as well as to protect civilians.

New York Times