The Taliban seized three provincial capitals in Afghanistan on Sunday, according to Afghan officials, the latest to be overtaken by the insurgents since the start of a sweeping military offensive in May, as US exit nears.

Iran PressAsia: With the capture of Taleqan, the capital of the northeastern province of Takhar, and the strategically important city Kunduz just hours earlier, the Taliban now have a hold on four provincial capitals across the country.

In Kunduz, fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghanistan's government forces took place Sunday near the governor's office and police headquarters, provincial council member Ghulam Rabani Rabani told AP.

Rabani said the Taliban was now in control of the two buildings. They also seized a prison building in Kunduz, according to Rabani.

With a population of about 375,000, Kunduz is considered a major hub for economics and culture. 

Takhar also has particular significance to an alliance of northern anti-Taliban fighters, who joined the US-led coalition to oust the Taliban at the start of the war in 2001. Two Afghan lawmakers told the AP that the capital fell to the Taliban earlier Sunday.

The Taliban have also taken government buildings in the northern provincial capital of Sar-e Pul, driving officials out of the main city to a nearby military base, Mohammad Noor Rahmani, a provincial council member of Sar-e Pul province, said.

The Taliban offensive comes as the US nears a deadline set earlier this year to end its military mission in the country by the end of August — just shy of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. About 650 U.S. troops remain in the country — down from a peak of 98,000 in 2011, according to the US Department of Defense.

Just this past week, the Taliban captured two other provincial capitals — one in southwestern Afghanistan, the other in the north. It killed the director of the nation's government media center in Kabul and tried to assassinate the acting defense minister.