Mazar-i-Sharif, the last major city in northern Afghanistan fell to the Taliban on Saturday night as the insurgents appear on the verge of a full military takeover of the war-torn country.

Iran PressAsia: The collapse of Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh Province and one of the last three major cities that had remained under government control, comes just a day after two key cities in southern and western Afghanistan were lost to the Taliban.

The Taliban seized the last northern holdout city barely an hour after breaking through the front lines at the city’s edge. Soon after, government security forces and militias fled.

“Government forces and popular uprisings all left the city,” said Hashim Ahmadzai, a pro-government militia commander. “The Taliban seized government and military buildings. There was no resistance.”

The insurgents now effectively control the country's southern, western, and northern regions — just about encircling the country’s capital, Kabul, as they press on in their rapid military offensive. The Taliban blitz began in May, but the insurgents have managed to seize more than half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals in just over a week.

With the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif, the only two major cities left under government control are Kabul and Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar Province in the eastern part of the country.

The loss of the north — once the heart of resistance to the insurgents’ rise to power in 1996 — to the Taliban offered a devastating blow to morale for a country gripped with panic.

By Saturday night, the Taliban controlled around 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces after Asadabad, the capital of Kunar Province in the country’s east, fell to the insurgents.