Taliban insurgents tightened their grip on captured Afghan territory on Tuesday, now controlling 65 per cent of the country, as US President Joe Biden urged the nation’s leaders to fight for his or her homeland.
Pul-e-Khumri, capital of the northern province of Baghlan, fell to the Taliban on Tuesday evening, consistent with residents who reported Afghan security forces retreating towards the Kelagi desert, home to an outsized Afghan base .
Pul-e-Khumri became the seventh regional capital to return under the control of the militants in a few week.
“Afghan leaders need to close ,” Biden told reporters at the White House, saying the Afghan troops outnumber the Taliban and must want to fight. “They’ve need to fight for themselves, fight for his or her nation.”
The US president said he doesn’t regret his decision to withdraw, noting that Washington has spent quite $1 trillion over 20 years and lost thousands of troops. He said the us continues to supply significant air support, food, equipment and salaries to Afghan forces.
In Kabul, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was seeking help from regional militias he has squabbled with for years. He appealed to civilians to defend Afghanistan’s “democratic fabric”.
In Aibak, a capital between the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, Taliban fighters were getting into government buildings. Most government forces seemed to have withdrawn.
“The only way is self-imposed confinement or to seek out how to go away for Kabul,” said tax officer Sher Mohamed Abbas, when asked about living conditions in Aibak.
“But then even Kabul isn’t a secure option anymore,” said Abbas, who supports a family of nine.
The north for years was Afghanistan’s most peaceful region, with only a minimal Taliban presence. The militants’ strategy appears to be to require the north, and border crossings within the north, west and south, then draw in on Kabul.
The Taliban, battling to defeat the US-backed government and reimpose their strict interpretation of shariah with peace talks at an impasse, met little resistance as they swept into Aibak on Monday.
A spokesman for the group’s political office told Al Jazeera TV on Tuesday that the group is committed to the negotiation path in Doha and doesn’t want it to collapse.
Taliban forces now control 65pc of Afghanistan, threaten to require 11 provincial capitals and seek to deprive Kabul of its traditional support from national forces within the north, a senior European Union (EU) official said on Tuesday.
The government has withdrawn from hard-to-defend rural districts to specialise in holding population centres. Officials have appealed for pressure on Pakistan to prevent Taliban reinforcements and supplies flowing over the border. Pakistan denies backing the Taliban.
The us has been completing some airstrikes to support government troops. Defence Department spokesman John Kirby said the strikes were having a “kinetic” effect on the Taliban, but acknowledged limitations.
“Nobody has suggested here that airstrikes are a panacea, which will solve all the issues of the conditions on the bottom . We’ve never said that,” Kirby said.
Taliban and officialdom confirmed that the insurgents have overrun six provincial capitals in recent days within the north, west and south.
Gulam Bahauddin Jailani, head of the national disaster authority, told Reuters fighting was happening in 25 of 34 provinces and 60,000 families had been displaced over the past two months, with most seeking refuge in Kabul.
Six EU member states warned the bloc’s executive against halting deportations of rejected Afghan asylum seekers arriving in Europe, fearing a possible replay of a 2015-16 crisis over the arrival of quite 1,000,000 migrants, mainly from the center East.
UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said reports of violations that would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity were emerging, including “deeply disturbing reports” of the summary execution of surrendering government troops.
“People rightly fear that a seizure of power by the Taliban will erase the human rights gains of the past 20 years ,” Bachelet said.
The Taliban, ousted after the 9/11 attacks on the us , seemed to be during a position to advance from different directions on Mazar-i-Sharif. Its fall would deal a devastating blow to Ghani’s government.
Atta Mohammad Noor, a northern militia commander, vowed there would be “resistance until the last drop of my blood”.
Washington will complete the withdrawal of its forces this month in exchange for Taliban promises to stop Afghanistan from getting used for terrorism . The Taliban promised to not attack foreign forces as they withdraw but didn’t comply with a ceasefire with the govt .