Taliban fighters have captured Mazar-i-Sharif, the last major city in northern Afghanistan which was still under government control.
The fall of the traditional anti-Taliban bastion marked a major gain for the militants, who have been advancing at speed as US-led forces withdraw.
President Ashraf Ghani travelled to the city just days ago to rally troops.
The Taliban are now in control of much of the country and are edging closer to the capital Kabul.
More than a quarter of a million people have been displaced by the violence, and many have fled to the capital in the hope of finding safety.
Fighting has been reported in Maidan Shar, 40 kilometres from Kabul.
Women in areas captured by the Taliban have described being forced to wear burkas and the militants are also reported to have beaten and lashed people for breaking social rules.
Western countries are scrambling to evacuate their citizens.