The Taliban said on Friday that it has control of 85% of Afghanistan’s territory, and government officials consider this to be part of a propaganda campaign.
However, local Afghan officials said that inspired by NATO’s withdrawal, Taliban fighters occupied an important area in Herat Province, home to tens of thousands of Shiite Hazaras.
Torhondi, a northern town on the border with Turkmenistan, Also captured by the Taliban Overnight, Afghan and Taliban officials said.
With the withdrawal of foreign troops including the United States after nearly 20 years of fighting, rapid progress has been made recently.
Tarek Arian, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said that efforts are being made to expel the Taliban from their newly acquired positions.
The Afghan government has repeatedly denied that the Taliban’s proceeds have little strategic value, but the seizure of multiple border crossings and mineral-rich areas may provide a new source of income for the treasury of armed groups.
Since the Taliban have destroyed most of northern Afghanistan in recent weeks, the government only owns a cluster of provincial capitals, which must be reinforced and air-supplied to a large extent.
On Friday, Taliban militants also attacked a prison on the southern edge of Kandahar City, the capital of their former fort Kandahar Province.
“The Taliban… are trying to get into the prison there. The fighting continues and we have deployed reinforcements, including special forces, to clean up the area,” Kandahar police spokesman Jamal Naser Barekza (Jamal Naser Barekza) ) Say.
Hundreds of Afghan security personnel and refugees continue to cross the border and flee to neighboring Iran and Tajikistan, arousing concern in Russia and nearby countries that the Taliban may infiltrate Central Asia.
Three visiting Taliban officials tried to resolve these issues during a visit to Moscow on Friday.
“We will take all measures to make the Islamic State [ISIL, or ISIS] Will not act on Afghan territory…Our territory will never be used against our neighbors,” one of the Taliban officials, Shahabuddin Delawar, said at a press conference.
Delaware added: “You and the entire international community may have recently learned that 85% of Afghanistan’s territory is under the control of the Taliban.”
‘Enter the field’
When asked how much territory the Taliban owns, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to comment directly.
In an interview with CNN, he said: “Declaring territory or claiming territory does not mean you can maintain or keep it for a long time.” “So I think it’s time for the Afghan army to enter the battlefield-they are on the battlefield. -Defend their country and people.
“They are capable, they are capable. Now is the time to have this will.”
In Afghanistan, a well-known anti-Taliban commander stated that he will support the Afghan army in regaining control of parts of western Afghanistan, including the border crossing with Iran.
Muhammad Ismail Khan, the well-known Lion of Herat, urged civilians to join the battle. He said that hundreds of armed civilians from Ghor, Badghis, Nimruz, Farah, Helmand and Kandahar provinces came to his home to make up for the security caused by the withdrawal of foreign troops. blank.
Khan is a veteran warrior commander who helped the US military to overthrow the Taliban in 2001. He promised to support government forces.
“We will go to the front line soon and change the situation with God’s help,” Khan told reporters in the western city of Herat.
‘A positive step’
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the Afghan people must decide their own future, and he will not let another generation of Americans participate in this two-year war.
Biden set the target date for the final withdrawal of US troops as August 31, minus approximately 650 soldiers to ensure the safety of the US Embassy in Kabul.
The Taliban welcomed Biden’s statement. “Any day or hour that the US and foreign troops leave early is a positive step,” said spokesperson Suhail Shaheen.
The Taliban acted boldly because of their withdrawal, and when the Doha peace talks were deadlocked, they seemed to be desperate for a full military victory.
Shaheen is also a member of the Qatar Taliban negotiating team, and he insists that the organization is still seeking a “negotiated settlement.”
The American president stated that Washington had realized the original reason for invading the country as early as 2001: eradicate al-Qaeda militants to prevent another attack on the United States, such as the attack on September 11, 2001.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attack, was killed by a US commando in neighbouring Pakistan in 2011.
‘Attack on healthcare’
As the fighting continued, an official from the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that health workers were working to deliver medicines and supplies to Afghanistan, and some workers fled after the facility was attacked.
Rick Brennan, WHO’s regional emergency director, said that at least 18.4 million people need humanitarian assistance, including 3.1 million children at risk of severe malnutrition.
Brennan said at a UN briefing in Geneva via a video link in Cairo: “We are worried about the inability to provide essential medicines and supplies, and we are worried about attacks on health care.”
He said some assistance will arrive next week, including 3.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and oxygen concentrators.