Officials said on Saturday that after days of fighting between Taliban militants and government forces, about 5,000 Afghan families had fled their homes in Kunduz, as the deadline for the withdrawal of US-led troops was imminent.
According to local media reports, fierce fighting also took place in Kandahar and Baghlan provinces. The Afghan army claimed to have retaken the area from the area controlled by the Taliban, but armed groups still control parts of the Pul-e-Khumri area in central Baghlan. . .
Since the US-led NATO foreign forces began their final withdrawal in May, the Taliban have controlled dozens of areas.
Since being overthrown in a US-led invasion in 2001, Afghan organizations have been launching armed rebellions and continue to surround Kunduz City.
In recent years, the Taliban have briefly occupied the city twice, but now they have occupied the surrounding areas and nearby border crossings with Tajikistan.
“About 5,000 families have been displaced by the fighting,” Ghulam Sakhi Rasouli, director of the Kunduz Refugee and Repatriation Department, told AFP.
He said that as many as 2,000 families have fled to Kabul and other provinces.
Ghulam Rabbani, a member of the Kunduz Provincial Council, said that many people took refuge in a school in the city and received food and other relief items.
Displaced families waiting for help
A video clip taken by Agence France-Presse showed that dozens of people, many of them women and children, were sitting in tents set up in the school compound.
“Our six families lived here for three days…you can see my children sitting on the ground,” said Juma Khan, who fled with the family.
“We still don’t get any help. Today, a team came to investigate some families, but they left after a few minutes,” said Akhtar Mohamed, who also took refuge in the school.
Rasuli added that after a month of sporadic clashes between armed groups and government forces, another 8,000 families have been displaced in Kunduz Province.
He said that the authorities were unable to provide relief supplies to all displaced families in the province.
Ehsanullah Fazli, director of the Kunduz City Public Health Bureau, said that since fighting broke out more than a week ago, 29 civilians have been killed and 225 injured.
The fighting continued for several days in Kunduz Province, where the Taliban and the Afghan army fought bloody battles.
On Tuesday, fighters occupied Shir Khan Bandar, the main border crossing between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which was one of their most important gains in recent months.
The Taliban released a video showing that they possessed U.S.-made Hummers and Afghan police and military equipment after seizing control of multiple areas.
Since the beginning of May, the Taliban have launched several major offensives against government forces in rugged rural areas and stated that they have occupied nearly 90 of the country’s more than 400 areas.
However, many of the Taliban’s claims have been questioned by the government and are difficult to verify independently.
As part of the agreement signed by the Taliban and the United States under the leadership of former President Donald Trump in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020, May is the deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Trump’s successor President Joe Biden extended the deadline to September 11, the 20th anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan after Al Qaeda attacked New York and Washington, DC.
After the U.S. military began to withdraw its last remaining 2,500 soldiers from the country to meet the September 11 deadline announced by President Biden to end the longest war in the United States, violence surged.
In the context of escalating violence, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani visited Washington last week and met with Biden. Biden promised the United States to support Afghanistan, but said that Afghans must decide their own future.
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera that if the United States continues to station troops in Afghanistan after September 11, the Taliban “has the right to react.”
“If they stay here, then I think this is a continuation of the occupation. They violated, and we have every right to react,” Shaheen said.
The February agreement also called for peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan leaders, but there is still a deadlock in Qatar.